Yesterday, Ryder, a little yorkie/shih tzu cross, gave us a heart attack. It was his very first day and he was pretty scared of the new situation he found himself in. We did a very slow introduction and allowed him to meet each dog one at a time, before he was finally brought into the play area. When we brought him in, he was still pretty uncomfortable so we kept a very close eye on him to make sure that he didn't get overwhelmed.
He made his way outside and planted himself in a corner of the yard so he could watch all the comings and goings. We made sure that the dogs that went up to him, didn't linger too long and make him nervous. The dogs were starting to ignore the newcomer and get on with their play so when a couple of dogs were making a racket inside, we took our eyes off of little Ryder for less than 2 minutes.
That is all it took for him to scale the fence (which is 6 ft high) and run off. At first we didn't believe it. He must just be hiding in the tunnel, under the couch, or ???? We searched and then searched some more. He had just vanished.
Our next step was to search the blocks and alleys surrounding the building. He'd been gone less than 5 minutes, he had to be some where nearby. He wasn't. While searching, I started making calls - to Jo, Amanda, even my husband and of course his owner. We needed reinforcements so that we could continue to supervise the dogs, yet start a search as well. Of course, NO ONE picked up their phones. I eventually called my husband's cell phone enough times, that he stepped out of his meeting to talk to me. He came instantly and started combing the nearby streets. Jo got back home from her morning walk and also instantly came to the rescue. Amanda didn't have her phone with her, and his owner was in a class and didn't realize the urgency.
About an hour had passed at this point and still little Ryder hadn't been found. I was asking people on the street if they had seen a dog and discovered that both Pet Parade and Just for Pets had received reports of a dog running loose at the Canadian Tire just a few blocks from us. Unfortunately he was spotted there shortly after he'd escaped so I was still an hour behind him. I searched the neighborhoods on the other side of 13th Street (the residential side) thinking he was probably trying to get home. He used to live near the daycare, but they had recently moved to the West Side. Unfortunately we didn't know their old address (as we still hadn't heard from the owner) so we didn't know which neighborhood to search. Turns out he didn't run for home, so it didn't make a difference anyway.
We still hadn't found him and I was starting to think there were just 2 possible scenarios. Someone had managed to catch him and he was safe or he didn't manage to make it safely across 13th Street. Gulp. I didn't want to look, but I had to. Better me, than his mom. So I started going down 13th Street, which is a very busy street. I saw some women on their coffee break outside the Dollarama and asked if they had seen a dog. No they had not. I kept walking. And then I saw him. He was up on a high cement bank, behind the Dollarama. He looked so sweet and innocent up there. The whole climb up the cement bank, I was telling him what a good boy he was, and he gave me the tiniest of wags in response. I was worried he would run away as it had sounded like the people who had seen him at Canadian Tire had tried to catch him but failed. He must have recognized me as he let me scoop him up and carry him back to the daycare.
Why am I telling you all this? I want you all to know that things like this CAN happen and what we do in an emergency situation. During this time, we had also contacted the Animal Shelter to see if they had received any reports on him and Jo was also in the process of calling Radio Stations when we found him.
We went over the fence with a fine tooth comb and there was no way he could have gotten out without going over the top. One of the questions on our questionnaire is "Has your dog ever scaled a fence?" but I guess there is a first time for everything and just because they haven't done it before, doesn't mean they won't. We are still amazed that in that short period of time he managed to not only figure out how to climb the fence, but also get all the way over it. We will definitely be looking into ways that we can prevent this from happening in the future.
We have also talked about getting ID on our play safe collars that all the dogs wear. I've been meaning to get tags for them, but hadn't found the time. I'll be ordering tags this week. This way, every dog will have ID on them if they manage to get loose.
If you have any suggestions about what we could have done differently, we'd love to hear them. While I'd like to think nothing like this will every happen again, I'd also like to be prepared for the worst. We want to make this not only a fun environment, but a safe one as well.