and it turned to outright panic when a passerby indicated that he had just been picked up from the street a block away by someone in a brown mini-van. When I finally had to call my girlfriend (the dog’s owner) to tell her what had happened, she burst into tears and her first words were, “I’m never going to see Pico again!”
The agony and fear of losing Pico was unbearable, but we moved quickly to put up crude signs around our neighborhood within a couple of hours. We hoped that a good soul had picked up this 2.5 lb. dog in the hope of sparing him from traffic and assumed that this person would be looking for us the next day. By the time we reached the fifth day we were thinking very differently and decided to offer a large reward and to post signs everywhere we could within our physical abilities. But we were also paralyzed now with the growing fears that perhaps someone had sold him, given him away, or simply decided to keep him. I wanted to do whatever possible, but I wasn’t sure what the right steps were and I felt that I didn’t have the stamina or emotional state to do it on my own.
After a brief misstep with another detective, we found Melody through an Internet search. She was very responsive and immediately empathetic to what we were going through without really allowing herself to commiserate with us.
So many times throughout the 13 days that Pico was gone we had people giving us false, unfounded hopes. At the same time, we constantly had people wincing and making dire predictions about the likelihood of recovering Pico because he is such a valuable, desirable dog. For example, a code enforcement officer in our city called me to relay a neighbor’s complaint about our flyers and reasoned that we were not going to find Pico anyway. Melody stayed the course and focused on guiding us through the search process. While she never succumbed to my pleas for her to rate our chances, she gave me confidence by helping me to understand where we were in the search process and how much more we could do to make it successful.
We were perhaps an extreme case in terms of the measures we were prepared and able to take to find Pico, but I doubt that we were unique in terms of how much we wanted him back. We distributed approximately 20,000 flyers due to the high volume of people who live in our particular city of the US. We contracted with a telemarketing firm to call each house in our area, and hired a publicist to help in getting television coverage.
With all of these efforts underway, there were still many times that I wanted to consider giving up and starting to grieve. We were physically and emotionally exhausted from the lack of sleep, the constant anxiety and depression, and from the highs and lows of the many false starts that we experienced. Melody kept us somewhat grounded and in the hunt.
My advice to anyone who has the misfortune of having to go through this experience: Don’t give up. Your pet deserves that. Our odds were are slim as anyone’s with a small, valuable dog lost in a city of more than one million people.
Someone brought Pico to us two days ago, and we have still not recovered. During this seemingly endless two-week period we saw the best and worst of people. From multiple extortion attempts and cruel pranks to numerous calls of support, advice, and volunteered help…we saw it all.
In some ways I think that we are permanently changed, but we are at least moving forward with our lives again and barely in time for Christmas. We made several promises along the way, in case we should ever find Pico, and we intend to keep them all. Among them we have promised to serve the cause of reuniting pets with owners when we see stray dogs, or at least trying to ensure that they find good homes.
Our hearts are with all who have to face such a loss, and we are here to provide support in any way that we can.
Alex, Vivian, and Pico