2019-01-17 / Columnists

Pets, Pets, Pets

Ready for another lost dog story? This one reiterates the importance of spreading the word near and far, the value of teamwork and another lesson that may not be unique to Jiminy’s Journey.

Jiminy and Comet, young, houndmix brothers, came to Last Hope in December from Brookhaven Shelter.

The town shelter received them as strays taken to a local emergency hospital, which serves as a drop-off when the shelter is closed. Supposedly, these dogs were found in the Middle Island Wal-Mart parking lot. (I remain a skeptic. It’s hard to believe a stranger would be able to catch both of them.)

Brookhaven Shelter has more than 100 dogs at all times. The brothers were bonded and quite frightened in the crowded, noisy kennels. Our hope was they would relax in Last Hope’s smaller setting and with TLC from over 200 volunteers. The boys did begin to settle. Comet calmed faster, but Jiminy was adopted first to a lovely couple in Levittown.

Jiminy & brother Comet the day they came to Last Hope. Jiminy & brother Comet the day they came to Last Hope. No matter how well you know a shelter dog while in a kennel, you never know how that dog will react or behave in a home setting until the dog is adopted. Friday morning, January 11, a few days after his adoption, Jiminy (renamed “Hudson,” unbeknownst to us) went on a walk with his new owner Michael. As he was bringing the dog inside and unclipping the leash, Jiminy hit the front door open and took off at top speed with his family following as best they could at their top speed. Jiminy vanished from their sight in no time.

Jiminy’s family did the social media “right thing” and posted “Hudson” as lost on many Facebook lost dog pages. But they didn’t call Last Hope, which is understandable in their panic. That morning I happened to see a post for a lost “Hudson” who looked quite familiar. The blue bone Last Hope tag visible in the photo confirmed he was our Jiminy. Last Hope volunteers launched a search party immediately. Adopted dogs remain in the Last Hope family.

Some happy members of Team Jiminy after he was found. Some happy members of Team Jiminy after he was found. It Takes a Village of Volunteers to hunt for a lost dog. Between the Last Hope volunteers and other kind LI folks who often help when dogs are lost, more people joined the search party. Some drove around the area. A group of Last Hope volunteers worked together as a posse. Jiminy hadn’t lived with his new family long enough to come if he saw them. He wasn’t familiar with his Levittown neighborhood yet. Sandy, a trainer for Last Hope, was contact person for any sightings. The plan was she would bring Comet, the brother, to wherever Jiminy was seen in hopes he would smell or see his brother and approach him.

There were about four sightings on Friday but not in Levittown. Jiminy had gotten to Bethpage quickly. At first, we feared he would enter Bethpage State Park and hunker down in the woods where no one would see him. That didn’t happen. Instead, he seemed to circle an area in Bethpage.

If anyone got close to Jiminy, he’d take off. He was too skittish to coax with food. By the time, Sandy arrived at each spot with Comet, Jiminy would be gone. The last sighting was near Bethpage Middle School around 4 p.m. The search concluded as it got dark.

Silence on Saturday: The Saturday strategy was to ask volunteers to post “Jiminy Lost-Do Not Chase” flyers all over Bethpage and further east on the hunch Jiminy may be headed back toward Brookhaven. We also needed flyers on the old Grumman grounds because last year Last Hope held a TNR (trap/neuter/return) day there for 40 feral cats. There are plenty of hiding spots and cat feeding stations on the property were Jiminy could find something to eat.

Comet would come to the spot of any sightings. The posse and Jiminy’s owners continued to roam the places Jiminy had been seen on Saturday. A dog trapper used a drone to get an aerial view of the section Jiminy had wandered on Friday but there was no evidence from above and no sightings called in Saturday. This was quite disturbing. Had Jiminy left the area? Was he safe?

A Sunday Blessing: Sunday morning Last Hope volunteer Nicole was driving on Route 135 (Seaford/Oyster Bay) in Bethpage on her way to church and saw Jiminy running on the highway. Word went out and Jackie and Michael, his owners, arrived. Jiminy ran deeper into the woods with his peeps in pursuit.

Last Hope volunteer Phyllis picked up his brother Comet at Last Hope to save Sandy, our trainer, time. A state trooper joined in after he saw people running against traffic on Route 135.

Jackie and Michael could see their pup in the brush bordering Route 135 but were afraid they’d scare him back onto the highway if they tried to grab him. Sandy and others advised them by phone, “Get down low. Talk to him gently.” Finally Jiminy came toward Jackie (his new Mom) and she caught him by the collar.

Terri, another volunteer, had homemade meatloaf in her car, which traumatized and tired Jiminy refused until his brother Comet arrived at the scene. Their family reunion calmed him. Then Jiminy gulped the meatloaf down. Of course, Comet wanted his “finder’s fee” fair share.

Jiminy’s pads and paws were bloody from two days of racing frantically around Bethpage. The hound, his owners and members of his Last Hope entourage spent several hours at the emergency vet where Jiminy received an exam, fluids, blood work, a sedative and other TLC.

The exhausted pup is resting comfortably at home. Many lessons can come from lost dog hunts—one being that teamwork and spreading the word are the best approach. Another: our country’s Constitution separates church and state yet, in this case, rescue paired with religion was the key. There were many prayers plus pleas to St. Francis of Assisi for Jiminy’s safe recovery. And if Nicole hadn’t been going to church Sunday morning, she wouldn’t have spotted Jiminy. Hence, his rescue had to be divine intervention.

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