What do you do if you lose your dog in Berlin, and Germany as a whole? How do you deal with a 'found' dog? (Also applies to cats and any other pet)
I'll tell you at the end of this post, but first I want to tell you about an interesting day last Friday - to do with dogs.
Later than normal, I took Kita out for her morning walk. We tootled to the lake and she wanted to inspect a half-drowned boat which means I have to scramble down a rather steep slope with her.It's a secluded spot and a dead-end path and a bit precarious for me and my dodgy knee.
Suddenly, three off-leash dogs hurtled up to us out of the blue. Kita doesn't take well to surprises like this and also detests any dog sniffing her butt. She reacts loudly and appears vicious, but isn't - she's just telling them to have manners, but it never looks good to onlookers and is rather embarrassing for me. So with three unknown dogs all piling on top of her at once, the reaction was swift and sharp with a rather spectacular Shiba Scream.
Leisurely, the dogs' owners - a couple of women - ambled around the corner, not at all interested in what was going on. I was a bit miffed that they didn't instantly call their dogs off, so wasn't really taking in what they were saying to me. It was something about the "big dog", a border collie, and asking if it was mine. Which puzzled me. During the exchange I was battling to get Kita out of the way of their over-enthusiastic dogs while ensuring I remained upright, so didn't really assimilate what they'd said.
As I left the area the collie followed. Then I finally translated what they'd said - the collie had no owner with it and they hadn't seen anyone with it on their entire walk!
What to do? Kita liked the collie, so that wasn't an issue for once. It displayed endearing behaviour and politely tried to make friends with Kita and once away from the other dogs Kita was much calmer.
The collie had a collar on, was friendly and after some persuading came to me for a stroke. It snuggled against my legs for an ear tickle and allowed me to see it's collar and tag. No name, but there was an ID number - I'll explain this in a little while.
I figured the owner couldn't be far away so walked further on and waited for someone, anyone, preferably the collie's owner, to show up. The collie followed and after a while sat in front of me, gave me the big, soppy eye thing and cried! Argh!!
Now I was in a quandary: I didn't have much time to spare as I had to drive to school in an hour to collect Rhiannon after her week on a residential trip. I wanted to walk back around the lake to see if I could find the owner. However, it was doubtful if I would as the other women had come that way and said they hadn't seen anyone with the dog anyway.
Then the collie took the decision out of my hands and went up the path towards the road. I had to follow, it's a busy road and I couldn't risk it getting out of control there.
I had to make a quick decision. I would have to take the dog home and work something out. Ingeniously, I cobbled a lead out of my handbag and walked the two dogs home. They walked fabulously together, I was most impressed.
Back in the house, the collie made a beeline for the kitchen and had a long drink and hoovered up all the food down for my cat and dog then went outside and ate all Edgar Allen Crow's food too.
Now what? I tethered the collie to the long line we have and made sure Kita was OK. She was bemused, but calm. The collie followed me everywhere and kept coming up to me for cuddles for comfort. Adorable. I tried to find out if it was a boy or a girl, but the tail was firmly down and besides, it was far too fluffy to see. I think it was a girl, she seemed girly.
Every now and then I commanded 'her' to sit and she did. At one point I told her to 'stay' with a hand movement. And she did! I left her there, fully expecting her to follow me as I moved away, just like Kita does. But no, she actually stayed there while I made a phone call. Amazing to see a properly trained dog!
And, oh, she was gorgeous. I love Border Collies very much indeed, but don't believe they should be kept as pets. They are working dogs and need a LOT of stimulation and attention to avoid them having 'issues'. Or running off...
I'm sure they're fine if you are at home all day and work them somehow, eg agility, Flyball or a similar activity. But the herding instinct remains strong, regardless of breeding, sometimes with devastating consequences.
I phoned a friend who speaks German and he came straight over.
Intriguingly, the collie was very wary of him and wasn't anywhere near as friendly towards him. She obviously had 'issues' with men and came to me for comfort again, bless her.
Between us we discovered what to do if you've found a dog: you call the police. They come and collect the dog, take it away and scan for a microchip.
The ID tag would also tell them who the owner was. All dogs in Germany have to be registered (with the government, I believe, but I'm not sure) - a bit like the old British dog licence. It's not cheap, but it is compulsory. This is a good thing.
Before they went, my friend asked what would happen if they couldn't trace the owner. If they were going to put her down, we would not have allowed them to take her. Apparently, if nobody claims the dog after a certain time, the finder is given the option to keep it! Like lost property!
As they took the dog away, I felt very sad. She looked back at me as the walked her off and I can still see her forlorn face now. I do hope she was reunited with her owner very quickly.
This all got me thinking about what would happen if Kita escaped. She has a microchip, of course, but it's registered to our now non-existent address in Tokyo.
Thankfully there is a solution: Tasso.net - a charitable German organisation which offers an unique service to people looking for their missing pets. You can register your pet for free and they'll send you a small card with the information of your pet, as well as a tag with their phone number and your pets ID on it.
If your pet goes missing, you can register it as missing on their homepage, which sends out email alerts to volunteers in your region. Unfortunately the entire site is in German.
In order to get the Tasso ID tag you need to register: and, after much searching, here is the link in English.
It means that my pets' microchips are now registered to our current address.
I hope I never have to use it for a lost pet, but I feel much happier having registered.