The UX of Losing (and Finding) Your Dog

We have a family dog named Leroy. (Named after the hero from the cult classic “The Last Dragon”) He is a 18 month old black Labrador Retriever with some other breed mixed in; maybe a greyhound?  Leroy is obsessed with running after a thrown tennis ball.  He can do it for hours and runs ridiculously fast.

He has been a great pet and very loving to the whole family.  He doesn’t bark or bite.  He just jumps around alot.  Leroy is house-trained although he has shredded one particular couch that clearly was asking for it.

Anyway, we accidentally left the garage open and the he got out.  He went missing at about 7:30-7:45pm on Sunday night.  At 8:02pm Sunday night, he was found 2 blocks away by a concerned pet owner.  Because she didn’t see a tag on him with our phone number, she just called the ASPCA to pick him up.  They drove him to the Peninsula Humane Society in Burlingame.  We will refer to it hereafter as Doggie Jail.

We realized he was gone about that same time.  We started looking in every room, expanded to the block and then started fanning out to side streets.  Panic started to set in.  We had never lost a dog before and Leroy had become a member of the family.  We all were in a heightened state.

We drove around for an hour looking for him.  We called out the windows, “Leeeroooyyy!” “Come!” We used a squeaky toy that usually grabs his attention.  It was no use of course, Leroy was gone, driven to the shelter already.

The kids were distraught.  They felt guilty. “It’s my fault” said the eldest, “I should have taken him running this morning.  He would have been too tired to run away”

The next day, we waited until 11am, when the Doggie Jail opened.  There were half a dozen people in line.  Clearly, we were not the only ones who lost their dog.  A woman said, “You, you and you.  Let’s do a walk-through.”  Apparently, you browse the jail cells and look for your dog.

As we walked through the cells, we started getting depressed.  What if he isn’t here?  What if he got hit by a car?  Depression starting to set in.

My wife heard the dog even before we saw him.  She started crying.  Finally, we saw him.  Relief, anger, exhaustion washed over me.  I had been holding my breath apparently.  My head felt light.  Leroy was jumping all over the place.  They charged us $40 and sent us on our way.

This happens dozens of times a day in the area we live.  It’s a system and has been well-honed.  There must have been 50-100 dogs there.  It’s a machine to return dogs to their owners.  I’m surprised at it’s efficiency and usefulness.  A great system.

We went to the pet store and immediately got him a new collar and tag so he would be more identifiable in the future.



I imagined how people feel when one of their children goes missing.  The “not knowing where he is” was the worst.  I kept expecting him to be right around the corner.  I kept expecting to hear his voice.  I imagine a parent with a lost child would feel that way for years, or decades.

It’s a horrible experience to lose someone/something you love.  I am thankful a great system is in place to resolve the issue quickly.

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