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Category: Local

The Power of Social Media: Reuniting Lost Dog with Mom & Dad

Many strays come to Ryan’s Pet Supplies. We are not sure if this is due to the area that we are in or if they can just sense all the dog lovers, but for whatever reason we seem to have a stray dog come around at least every month or so. The road we are on is very busy, and the LAST THING any of us want to see is a pup run over in the street 😧. Everyone at Ryan’s tries their best to corral dogs away from the road so we can catch them, bring them inside, and decide next best course of action (calling the owner, calling animal control, helping find a foster home).

As I mentioned, many a stray pup has wandered to Ryan’s and they have either been taken home by an employee to be given a better life or taken to a shelter to be cared for/fostered. We once found a mother with four half Pitbull/half German Shepard puppies. Needless to say, all four puppies were taken home by employees and the mother was given a better life as well (we’ll save that story for another blog).

I would also like to note the difference between a lost dog and a stray. Unfortunately, it’s an obvious difference: a stray is a dog no one seems to care about (until they come to Ryan’s of course!). These dogs are typically very malnourished, clearly have been living on the street, and perhaps have a pest infestation. Typically, posting about them on social media is a lost cause because no one is looking for them (SAD!). We will still post as a part of our procedure. Conversely, a lost dog is a dog that is from a good home and is clearly cared for. It has a collar or a chip, it’s been groomed, has clean teeth, trimmed nails.

So, in February, when “Bruce” (nicknamed Bruce because one of our employees, Iyanna, is an avid comic book lover and she said he looked like a Dark Knight) stumbled in to Ryan's, we knew right away, this wasn’t a stray. He didn’t have a collar, but he was like we mentioned: clean, well-groomed, had trimmed nails, very clean teeth. Clearly someone loved this dog. I can tell you up to this point, we had only had “strays” come to Ryan’s (in the time I’ve been working there at least).

I will also say this: working in the pet industry is amazing! People frequently tell me how lucky I am, and I know we are all particularly blessed. But there are sometimes when my heart just breaks, and this was one of those times. I couldn’t imagine being separated from my dog (I have a little Pomeranian that I bring with me everywhere, even work, even trade shows – you might have seen us at Groom Expo West! And yes, I carried her around in her little pouch the entire time, she wasn’t left alone in the hotel room once).

I could not imagine the anguish the owner was feeling. We knew right away what we had to do, we quickly posted pictures on social media because unlike the rest of the strays that wander in, this boy was specially cared for aka a “lost dog.”

Once we had posted pictures, we took “Bruce” into a crate, gave him food and water. Here was another interesting difference: normally strays are either so malnourished, they can’t even eat, or they are starving and gobble down anything you give them. Bruce was immediately turned off by the food and I knew he was just a homesick, spoiled boy (and that’s fine).

Iyanna really started to take a liking to him and decided that she would take him overnight while we searched for the owner. We gave her all the goodies she would need to take care of him during his stay. We weren’t particularly hopeful that we would find anything but at the same time, I warned Iyanna that we might find the owner and not to get too attached. If this had been any other stray, I would’ve told her to get prepared to keep him. But I knew, in my heart of hearts, in my heart soul, that someone was missing this dog. And Bruce was clearly homesick. 

Our initial post was shared 56 times. We wanted to give everyone an update that Iyanna would be fostering Bruce while we continued to look for the owners. He was a very sweet boy. Clearly homesick, clearly well trained, well socialized. Just a happy pup. He fell asleep on an employee’s foot at her desk:

In all honesty, I was personally sick to my stomach for a few days while we searched for this good boy’s owner. I also wondered that if someone wasn’t on social media that they might not find him. What if they were elderly and not on Facebook? We are in Phoenix, where a large percentage of the population speaks Spanish. What if they don’t speak English? How were we ever going to get this dog home where he belongs? But finally, a miracle happened:

Our post got enough shares, and finally the right person shared the post. This person happened to be friends with Bruce’s MOM! She had been scouring Facebook and social sites to find her baby. She messaged us on Facebook, we of course verified the dog was hers. She had pictures, videos and more. Turns out his name is actually Rocky! We started calling him Rocky and he responded. We knew right away this was it!

Turns out they had taken Rocky/Bruce to Grandma’s house where he dug a hole under a loose gate and g ot out. He then walked ALL THE WAY TO Ryan’s Pet Supplies which is a 15-minute drive in a car, or a 2 hour walk if you are a dog. Not that he walked it all at once, he was lost for almost 2.5 weeks when we reunited them!

Iyanna brought him to work that day so he could be picked up. She was sad, but she knew it was the right thing. Mom couldn’t come to pick him up since she was at work, so she sent Dad. Rocky/Bruce was still very excited to see Dad! He laughed that we had been calling him Bruce and said, “Now he’ll be Rocky/Bruce.” We all laughed and felt like we had done some good in the world. Here you can see a picture of the post and Iyanna saying her final goodbye to Rocky/Bruce.

You can check out a video of their reunion here.

I personally felt like I had done good in the world. It might not have been a large gesture like fixing world peace or solving world hunger, but reuniting a lost dog with their owner made me feel like I had good karma for the rest of the year (lol and then the rest of 2020 happened….). But regardless, I was really proud of the Ryan’s Pet Supplies team for doing the most and taking care of Rocky while we looked for his owner.

This was initially going to be a blog on the power of social media, but as the words were being typed, and I look back on this experience, I just want to remind people that good things happen in the world every day even if the main stream media doesn’t cover it. I want to remind you that the smallest gestures can make a large impact. And while in the scheme of things, it’s not a huge deal, reuniting this dog with his owners was a big deal for me.

I’m not crying, you’re crying!

There is still a large role that social media plays in all of our lives whether we want to acknowledge it or not. And again, I wasn’t hopeful that we would find the owners. But the universe and some good souls took over and shared our post enough times that we were able to reunite Rocky with his Mom & Dad. I’m not saying you have to share every lost dog post (although it’s not a bad idea 😉), but social media was powerful enough to reunite this dog with his parents and that’s just something to be marveled at.

I want to say that I couldn’t be more blessed to work in a community of pet lovers. I went home from work that day feeling extremely proud and happy to work at Ryan’s Pet Supplies. I felt so proud and felt like I, Casey Ganz, made a difference in the world on that day.

I also recently helped reunite a chihuahua with her owners (my friend wanted to keep the lost dog, and I said no, absolutely not, post that baby on NextDoor right now). So, I’m up to assisting with TWO reunions this year!

Thank you to everyone that shared our posts. Thanks to Ryan’s for being an amazing place to work. Thank you to Iyanna for taking care of Rocky/Bruce while he was waiting to be reunited. Thanks to Mom & Dad for not giving up hope and getting in contact with us. Rocky is now safe at home and we couldn’t feel better about it.

If you have a similar story, comment on social media and tell us! We love hearing about this type of thing. Also, if you are a groomer that helps shelters get pets ready for adoption, please DM us on Facebook or Instagram. We frequently donate to these types of causes and want to be able to help out where possible.

Thank you for reading about this story, it was very near and dear to our hearts, especially mine.

-Casey Ganz

Marketing Specialist/Social Media Gal at Ryan’s Pet Supplies