We went to check on the surf — and came back with a newfound appreciation for microchips and dog tags.
On Sunday Derek and I drove to Portlock to check out the surf in Maunalua Bay. As we were driving home, we saw a gaunt tan-and-white Cavalier King Charles wandering the streets in the neighborhood.
As we do whenever we see stray dogs, we pulled over and tried to keep the dog off the road and out of harm’s way.
Usually, strays will bolt; they’re almost impossible to grab. But the ones who are truly missing — most often slipped out an open gate — tend to be more reasonable.
This dog actually walked over to our car.
I grabbed a towel and wrapped the dog in my arms. Much of his fur had been scratched or chewed off, as he was suffering from a severe skin allergy. He was scared and hungry and sad. My heart ached.
But he had no dog tag, no collar, no identification. We weren’t sure what to do.
We walked around the neighborhood, stopping cars and knocking on doors to no avail. A very helpful resident who was out walking her dog actually rang doorbells, too. Nothing.
This was the first time we had picked up a stray that had absolutely no ID. Hoping the dog had a microchip — an insert the size of a grain of rice that contains a unique number for each animal — we took him to Animal CARE Foundation in Hawaii Kai. It’s a nonprofit organization that provides veterinary care and services to rescued animals.
Yes, there was a microchip. But this foundation and the Hawaiian Humane Society, which keeps a database of numbers, had no record of it. Meaning, neither had information on the dog nor its owner.
Already, there were two problems: the dog didn’t have a collar and ID tag, which could have included his name and contact information of the owners; and the owners didn’t register the microchip with the local humane society, which was something I didn’t know you had to do.
According to the Hawaiian Humane Society, owners have to update their contact information with their vets and the local humane society; it’s not automatic. And if you move with your pet to another state, you should register — for a small fee — with the national database for your brand of microchip. Otherwise, if you lose your pet, the microchip won’t help.
There was nothing the foundation could do except offer two weeks of vet care and boarding for $200; after that, it would cost $7 a day. (It’s a no-kill shelter — but it’s not “no-pay” shelter.) Luckily, a dog-loving friend of mine offered to care for the lost dog, who we named Charlie, while we searched for the owner.
I asked the vet to look the dog over first before we introduce him to a new home and a resident dog. I wanted to make sure Charlie didn’t have anything contagious or life-threatening.
She said the dog was healthy — though hungry and likely dehydrated — but suffered from a skin allergy that was likely tied to his diet. The skin on his underside was completely exposed — raw, flakey and inflamed. He looked miserable. But I give this dog credit: he was happy and sweet, one of the nicest dogs I’ve ever encountered.
I didn’t know this, either: dogs can suffer from allergies. In this case, Charlie was likely allergic to something in his food. Typically, the allergy is to gluten or wheat products. We read that changing the diet to a protein- or meat-based one would help immediately.
My friend bathed Charlie in baby shampoo and lathered his underside with aloe from her yard. When I went over to visit yesterday, he was happily curled up on a bed in a crate. He greeted me like an old friend, wagging his gnawed tail and letting me rub his head.
We put an ad on Craigslist and posted his information on social media sites. So far, we had one inquiry; we’ll find out today if we’ve located his owners. Hopefully, we can reunite Charlie with his family soon.
Honestly, I didn’t think I would have gotten so attached to a stray dog I had only just met. But Charlie is so sweet and accommodating, pleasant and calm. I hate to think of him alone, wandering the streets, hungry and scared. It breaks my heart. But thanks to him, I learned a lot about properly caring for my pooches and the importance of dog tags and microchips.
Sunny and Indy wouldn’t last a day on their own — and I don’t expect they’ll ever have to.
very moving story. says alot about you-Great! and alot about the owner-not so great. 1-owner is not caring or feeding charlie properly.2-anyone who loses a dog would be franticaly searching the lands and the internet. Sure,there could be mitigating circumstances,but the poor diet is long term, speaking volumes! A good samaritin award is definately in order for your random act of kindness. Sure hope if i’m ever dazed and confused,lost and hungry……its you that finds me.
I’m sure anyone would have pulled over to help this dog. I don’t need a reward. Actually, the only reward I want is to place this dog in a home that’s fit for him…
With the economy is lousy as it is I am surprised there are not more strays than there are, and thank goodness there aren’t. The SPCA and other organizations have their hands full trying to deal with the numbers they get already.
Hope this story has a happy ending. And good on you for doing this.
Hey, you have a point there! I AM surprised, though, how many people are giving away their pets on Craigslist. It’s like they wanted the cute puppy but didn’t realize it would grow into a big dog. Idiots…
Yes, that is so true! Most people love the cute puppies but don’t like what happens when they are 80 pound eating machines that get as many shots as their kids. And in many ways they are like having an additional kid around. if you want them to grow up to be fun happy dogs you have to play with them etc. And the kids don’t do as much of the dirty work as you’d hope. Result, kids go off to school dog goes off to new owners or the pound. My son and I now have a 3 month old puppy, great fun for the both of us, and I am certain when he goes off to college, my son that is, I’ll be caregiver for the dog that remains. Had to think that through before I said yes. The new puppy has already cost $300 and that is just the beginning. I for one am really happy people are giving away dogs on Craigslist as opposed to turning them loose like the dog you found!
My two girls inherited the CKC allergy and digestion traits. We take them to Dr. DeGiacomo. at ACF also. From her recommendation, we put them on a ground turkey, brown rice, peas and carrots diet, along with a doggie multi-vitamin every day. It is time consuming and more expensive than to just feed plain kibble, which we did (a high quality brand). But, they just didn’t take to kibble as they were always “runny,” and sick. This diet did the trick. Most dogs have a beef allergy anyways, and some have chicken allergies too.
I found a couple of strays at my old place, took ’em in overnight, and was lucky enough to find the owner(s) the next day. It sure feels good to know they get to go back home when you take the time to care for them in the short term.
Great post Cat, and hopefully it influences others who may not have intervened with strays before.
Good to know about the diet… Hopefully we’ll see results after changing Charlie’s diet. My friend, Nancy, is doing most of the work. I’m just trying to locate his owners or place him in a new home. I’ll check on the poor guy later today to see how he’s doing. Last time I was there, he was walking around with his tail wagging, so that’s a good sign!
Way to go, Cat! Nice work.
Well, we found his owners! And we’re going to help them find ways to deal with Charlie/Rascal’s skin allergies.
Hey, this is NOTHING compared to a cat falling from 23 floors!
Hello Cat, I hope the owners and Charlie gets reunited soon.
They will be this afternoon!
I love happy endings. 🙂
Rascal/Charlie is just a sweetie. So well behaved. I’m sure he’s glad you found him, and Nancy’s house is always very pleasant for animals. 🙂
Nancy is the PERFECT boarding house, don’t you think???
you’re an amazing person! I teared up a little reading this story… you have an amazing amount of compassion… Charlie, Sunny, and Indy (Derek too) are all lucky to have you in their lives…
No, no, no, not amazing. Just doing what anyone would do. 🙂
*Rex presses ‘Like’ button*
Cat: I love your blog. And whether you know it or not, your blog always reaffirms just how nice of a person you are! You could substitute any other kind word in there for “nice” and it will be appropriate for you.
I sure hope Charlie goes to a nice home. And not necessarily with his previous owner.
And don’t be too naive to think everyone would be as kind-hearted and compassionate as you to stop and help Charlie. It would be nice to think that, but that’s unlikely. I don’t think Charlie would have been lost in the first place.
I’ve stopped for a few lost dogs before, but as you said, they’ve always run away when I tried to approach. I still hope for a time that I can actually rescue a lost or stray dog on the streets. I just hate to see them out there too!
What I did was nothing amazing, trust me. I went to Craigslist this morning and clicked on “Lost and Found.” There are HUNDREDS of people who pick up items — including pets — and post them online. There are others who are boarding lost dogs as I’m typing this! What’s amazing to me is how NICE people are — and how little attention they get for their good deeds.
@AlohaRoy, any dog can get lost. Mine ran off the other night for a neighborhood sniff-fest when I sat her down to shishi on the grass by the sidewalk. Normally, I can do this without a leash and they both go quickly, then jump back in my arms. This time there was a loud neighborhood party and she ran fullspeed the minute I sat her down. She came back 20 minutes later after Iooked all over for her.
It can happen to anyone/any dog.
But, I would be concerned about the skin condition of Rascal. That is far worse than it “should” be… hopefully, the owners will get it taken care of.
Can I come over for dinner next time I get lost? 🙂 Great post, Cat!
Award….not necessrily reward. Like a pin from the mayor or something.Maybe a guest spot on Good Morning America. A deposit in the good karma bank has already been made…