In July 2018, when our beloved Golden Retriever Daisy was 8 months old we had a big scare. We lost her for 20 hours, which seemed like an eternity at the time! This was completely preventable, and completely our fault. We were new dog owners and had no clue that most dogs get spooked by fireworks. All we knew at the time was we wanted to have a fun family evening out together, and that included daisy.
We walked to the field nearby our home that was hosting the celebration in anticipation of the fun evening we thought we were about to have. We arrived a few minutes before the start of the fireworks and got a comfortable seat on the crowded grassy hill with Daisy right next to us secured tightly in her harness with me holding the leash.
The fireworks were about to start. Craaaackkk!! The first one exploded in the air, and I felt Daisy instantly jump over my lap, followed by a snap of the harness that was supposed to hold her securely. I have no idea how, but she bolted so fast she ripped the harness from its buckles, and she was gone in an instant. I sprinted after her, as fast as I could for 3 blocks, but she kept getting further away, until I lost sight of her.
I ran to my house and grabbed my bike so I could cover more ground. I rode in a 10 km radius around my house calling out her name and asking everyone I saw if they had seen a dog run by. At about 2:30 am I decided to call it quits, and came back home to my exhausted family who had been out looking as well.
Bright and early the next day we were plastering the neighborhood with signs. We recruited family and friends to help. We posted on all the local lost dog Facebook groups, and had everyone we know share. Hours went by, and still no leads. We were so scared for our little pup. Was she injured, did she run out in front of a car? All of these scary possibilities crept into our minds.
Then late that afternoon my sister got a facebook message from someone who said they thought our missing dog may be lying on their neighbor’s porch. My wife and I jumped in our car and sped to the nearby address given to my sister.
There she was! It was her lying on the porch! I never even came to a full stop, and my wife was out the door. I slammed the car in park in the wrong direction, and we both ran like a couple of crazies calling her name. She was injured and lethargic but hobbled towards us as she saw us coming.
I have never felt such a sense of relief and gratitude as I did at that moment, knowing we had our Daisy back. She had burnt off almost all the pads on her paws from running so long, she was scared and weak, but she was safe! That is all that mattered!
This story is embarrassing for us because we did not know what everyone else seemed to know about dogs & fireworks. Some made us feel ashamed and stupid, others were understanding. The reason I wanted to share this story is because of the lessons we learned. Hopefully, this helps someone prevent something similar from happening.
Lesson #1 – A GPS Tracker Can Save Your Dogs Life
We now know we were in the wrong that day by bringing a dog to the fireworks. It was an unfortunate mistake that we regret dearly to this day.
The simple fact is that dogs can get spooked by loud noises, anywhere and anytime though. We are now prepared for that situation if it ever does occur again, and our dog somehow gets away from us.
The day after we found Daisy I began researching the best GPS trackers on the market. There was a tonne to choose from, and it took quite a while to determine the best option for our girl. To save you all the time and hassle, I have written an article on my top 5 picks for the best GPS trackers on the market.
The bottom line is, you never know what things may spook your dog, or if a situation will arise where your dog goes chasing after another animal etc. The key is to be overly prepared in case god forbid your dog gets away from you can’t find him or her.
With the GPS tracker we have, we can now see instantly the exact location of our dog at any time as long as she is wearing it. So if she were ever to slip away from us again we would find her in minutes. Because each minute matters! There is a plethora of hazards out there, and the sooner you can find your missing pet the better chance you will get them back un-harmed.
Lesson #2 – Leverage Your Network to Reach as Many People as You Can Quickly
We spent hours plastering the neighborhood with signs, and talking to people on the streets. We had family, and friends helping us and we did cover a lot of territory quickly. Everyone came together to help us out, it was fantastic. This was a huge help, but not what actually brought our pup home. It was the power of social media.
Our friends, and family all shared our post we put up on a local lost dogs site. This really got the work out to a mass of people we never could have reached alone. Our friend’s friends started sharing, and eventually, it ended up in the feed of the person who knew where our dog was.
Lesson #3 – You Need a Good Strong Dog Harness!
To this day I have no clue how our little daisy who was still less than a year old at the time, broke right out of her harness. She literally ripped the nylon!
After “the incident” we made sure to do some good research and find the strongest harness out there. We managed to find an amazing quality harness that is crash rated for dogs up to 75 pounds. It has all steel hardware (no plastic), and nested buckles that can’t break apart. The manufacturer is in the USA and engineered these harnesses base on rock-climbing harnesses. They are built with the strongest materials and are made to last.
We love this harness! We have had it for over a year and it has not worn much at all. It works well for walks, runs, and bike rides. It also has a loop on the front for no-pull walking.
If you would like to learn more check out this article we put together for the best harnesses in 2019.