Like so many of us who share our lives with a beloved dog, we had our dog Teddy microchipped when he became a permanent family member after a short foster period. And although life is fickle, and nothing we do can guarantee that a lost dog will be reunited with its hopeful humans, anything that can make it possible is definitely worth the effort.
The American Humane Association estimates that over 10 million dogs and cats are lost or stolen in the U.S. every year. According to the Petfinder adoption site, one in three pets will become lost at some point during their life. And while only approximately 22 percent of lost dogs that enter animal shelters are reunited with their families, the return-to-owner rate for micro chipped dogs is over 52 percent, a staggering 238 percent increase!
While these statistics are eye-opening, there’s nothing like a true-life story to bring home the message that a tiny microchip can make a huge difference in an outcome. When I posted on the National Dog Week Facebook Page asking for someone to share their personal microchip reunion story, Bebe Faryewicz sent me her family’s touching story about their German Shorthaired Pointer, Kris.
Bebe relayed that when her dog-loving daughter Valerie was only nine, she’d saved her money for a German Shepherd dog. She took great care of this dog – feeding, training, providing lots of play time that even included “dressing up” the big dog. At 13, Valerie remained a responsible young person; a good student who’d garnered recognition for many achievements. Bebe, and her husband Jim, thought their daughter deserved another dog.
According to Bebe, “We often visited family friends on their ranch where they had German Shorthaired Pointers. Valerie came to really liked the breed.” At that time, the Farywicz family was living in Plano, Texas, but usually traveled to spend time with family in Arkansas during the holiday season. During one of those visits, Bebe and Jim located a German Shorthaired Pointer breeder in Arkansas.That Christmas, Valerie’s surprise present was a puppy she named Kris, in the spirit of the holiday.
Bebe says Kris was very sweet, affectionate and smart even as a pup. He was a working dog, however, always chasing birds, butterflies, dragon flies, squirrels, and rabbits. His instinct for pointing birds found him running hard on the family’s 500 acre ranch, often until he dropped. Unfortunately, due to these breed traits, Kris eventually became lost in March 2013. “We lived in a house with a fenced in back yard. There was a partially broken picket, and Kris managed to break through the picket, probably chasing after an animal. By the time I realized he was gone, it was too, late,” Bebe sadly recalls.
The Farywiczs searched for Kris long and hard, doing everything possible to find him; visiting at least 50 shelters, calling vets, and putting up signs. But three months later, when the family relocated to Arkansas, the local ground search ended with their move. For several months, however, Bebe continued to search online.
As you can imagine the unresolved loss of their beloved dog was devastating. “Our hearts were broken. I had terrible thoughts of him getting injured, being out in the cold (which he did not like), or crying during storms,” Bebe says. The family held out hope that someone had found Kris and had taken care of him, but remained distressed about his unresolved disappearance.
Then, in June 2017, Bebe received a call from a veterinarian in Texas – Kris had been found by a rescue group in the town of Garland. With the information contained on his microchip he’d been traced to them. “I couldn’t believe my ears,” Bebe says. The rescuers who’d taken Kris in loved him and were so excited about finding his family that they drove that night all the way from Texas to Arkansas; at least a six hour drive, to reunite him with the Faryewiczs.
When Kris was found he was weak, dehydrated, skinny, had hookworms and suffered from lung inflammation. When the rescue group brought him to the vet, it had been determined that Kris hadn’t been on his own that long because he was relatively healthy; he had no liver or kidney problems. At age twelve, however, he’d become blind and deaf. According to Bebe, “We suspect someone took care of him for quite a while, and they either ignored the chip information, or never mentioned he was micro chipped to a vet. And we’re guessing, despite his advanced age, he’d escaped somehow, like he had done with us. I’m sure his new owners loved him like we did. At least, that’s our hope.”
Kris may have begun his life with the Faryewicz family as a Christmas gift, but his lasting gift was that of reunion defined as the act of getting people, and their pets, together again after they have been apart. Bebe, Jim, their son Jimmy and of course Valerie, remain grateful for all those who were involved in their dog’s rescue and return.
Microchipping is an inexpensive, simple, permanent, and painless procedure that can be safely administered by your dog’s veterinarian. Remember to register the microchip so that it’s included in a national database, and keep your contact information updated when you move. To ensure your dog’s chip is operational and critical information is up-to-date, ask your vet to scan your dog during an annual veterinarian checkup.
Hopefully, you’ll never experience the angst and uncertainty experienced when a pet goes missing, or is stolen. But knowing that you’ve had your dog microchipped can offer a sense of hope and ultimately, the gift of reunion. Just ask the Farywicz family.
About the Author:
According to Chinese star-gazers, Lisa Begin-Kruysman was born during the Hours and the Year of the Dog. It’s no surprise then that she’s made canines the focus of her award-winning works of Fiction and Non-Fiction, and social media platform. She is the recipient of the DWAA’s Maxwell Medallion and the North Shore Animal League America Award and the author of Dog’s Best Friend: Will Judy, Founder of National Dog Week and Dog World Publisher (McFarland & Co.) and other titles. Her writing is inspired by the licks and love of her adorable foster-to-forever dog, Teddy. For more information please visit: www.lisabegin-kruysmanauthor.com