Guest Post by Quentin Baker
A dog is a man’s best friend, so the saying goes. Well yes, quite so; he doesn’t text back, leaves without a word, and occasionally pees in the corner of your living room. But wandering pets very often do come back. In fact, many animals have the homing instinct, even snails.
There are many tales of animals returning to their owners across incredible distances. Perhaps the legends began with The Incredible Journey, the children’s book by Sheila Burnford, which told the tale of a Labrador, a bull terrier and a Siamese cat who trekked across the US to get back home.
Not all animals go home; many go in the other direction. Our dog often made the short run from our local park to the vets’ practice; even my childhood pets were hypochondriacs. Indeed, a penchant for paint buckets made him quite easy to trace, and allowed me to spot when family members had failed to scoop that poop on his afternoon walk, as the pavement would be decorated with bright blue little round dots.
Now when pets leave home, we have a distinct advantage: thanks to technology, we may be able to find them again – unlike Luath, Bodger and Tao, these modern day travellers were found and returned thanks to the power of the microchip.
Colorado cat in Manhattan
The United States is so large that it’s no wonder so many cats (and people) never travel. Why bother, when a cat can make the 1,800 mile journey from the Rocky Mountains in Colorado to bustling New York City, without having to go abroad? Willow, the calico cat, took five years to make the journey – and we can only imagine what adventures she must have had along the way.
Fortunately the cat had been microchipped, enabling the savvy New Yorker who picked her up to have her identified at the Animal Care and Control Shelter. Her owners thought their pet had been eaten by coyotes, and were so glad she had been recovered that a happy Jamie Squires told AP, “If I could microchip my kids, I would.”
3,000-mile microchip miracle
Eight years is a long time to be without your beloved pooch. But it took Petunia, an American Staffordshire terrier-pit bull mix, eight years to cover almost 3,000 miles, while the rest of us were spending the decade worrying about climate change, the Middle East and the economy. Despite not having seen her pet since 2003, Kristen Pruitt from Virginia in the US recognised her pet instantly from photos, after she was picked up 2,709 miles away near an air force base in California. The Animal Care Centre was equally baffled to find, after scanning the microchip of the canine adventurer, that she was registered on the other side of the country.
So don’t panic if your pet leaves home or decides to take a gap year. Having them microchipped –a scanable chip about the size of a grain of rice, containing identification information, implanted just beneath the skin – seems to be the sensible option. Just make sure you’ve got pet insurance for when they return, otherwise your veterinary bills might find you putting your dog back on the train.
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