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Editor's Note: Lost Puppies, Stray Cattle, and High-Tech

Oct 24, 2008, 23:03 (9 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Carla Schroder)

by Carla Schroder
Managing Editor

This is one of those heroic days where I keep my nose to the grindstone even though my life is falling apart and I do not want to work-- my dog went missing this morning. Naturally she is not your ordinary run-of-the-mill mutt. Layla is the smartest, prettiest, best dog on the planet, and I say this with a complete lack of bias. See for yourself in this charming photo of Firecracker and Layla taken on our last hike.

firecracker and layla

How can you not love dogs who swim across rivers whether you want them to or not? And then pose for photos on picnic tables?

One moment she was here, and then she wasn't. It was an unusual morning because we had a gaggle of hot air balloonists come to town and put on a splendid show. Naturally I took some pics.

balloons galore balloon over house

Everyone assumed that she got scared and ran off. That's the least likely scenario. My favorite theories are she either ran off with some balloonists, or the jerk neighbor that everyone hates dog-napped her. We're doing all the things you do to find a lost pet- flyers, radio ads, and talk to everyone. It's a small community and word spreads fast.

High-Tech Critter Tracking

I got to thinking about high-tech methods of pet-tracking. You can have a microchip implanted in dogs that contains contact and ID information. This identifies the dog after it's found, like in a shelter. Providing they have a compatible reader, that is, which is not always the case. As far as I know there are no tiny implantable GPS trackers for dogs, so you still have to find them the old-fashioned way.

One of my rancher friends had a Big Idea a couple years ago. He leases grazing land during the summer up in the mountains, and his cows roam free and unsupervised until the fall roundup. Which to me is like asking for them to evaporate and disappear, but that's how it's been done ever since cattle came to these shores. He rounds them up the only way you can in rough country, on horseback and with dogs. It's fun and a good excuse to ride around in the woods.

But even the funnest fun palls as one ages, especially when years of falls and injuries start reminding you that you're not as young as you used to be, and you consistently lose one or two prime beef steers every year. Never a young calf or an old cow, no, always, by an amazing coincidence, just the succulent ones. So the Big Idea was to purchase a bunch of GPS trackers made especially for livestock. Why not? Hunters and hikers use them all the time in the same terrain and they work great. Find your cows in no time, rather than days, and spend those days dozing by the fire instead of tramping up hill and down dale in all weather, trying to herd cows that like their freedom and don't want to do what you tell them.

It was indeed a splendid plan, but with one fatal flaw: the trackers hung on a strap around the cow's necks. At a cost of a couple hundred dollars each they were prime thief targets, and every last one disappeared within a couple of weeks. Once again technology fails before a simple, non-technological attack. My friend was very sad, but not discouraged-- I'm sure he'll come up with a better plan. Probably not one that involves actually keeping an eye on his cows, in the way that normal people do with their possessions. How many of use drive out to the wilderness, drop all of our valuables on the ground, drive away, and then expect to find them all in the same general vicinity four months later? I daresay hardly any of us, but cattle ranchers are different.

Anyway, if you see my dog please send her home.