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Lost and Found
By Michelle Boyaner

We arrived at one of the "Beautiful Lost Dog" signs, but upon closer examination of the accompanying photo, we realized the "Beautiful Lost Dog" in all the signs was not our Found Dog. Just to be sure, we called the distraught owner of the "Beautiful Lost Dog," and he described in great detail his four-year-old dog. Barbara could tell our dog was less than a year. We kept the "Beautiful Lost Dog" owner's phone number anyway, just in case it turned out we were wrong, and our dog's youthful appearance was due to its having been the subject of a recent Extreme Makeover: Canine Edition on the ABC Family channel.

We stopped at our local grocery store and picked up a bag of dry dog food, a plastic squeeze toy in the shape of a bone, and a real bone in the shape of a bone. We pulled up to the house and headed toward the backyard where we had previously secured the dog using a long leash, and where we'd left the formerly-collectible Bauer bowl filled with water, a plate of cat food (it was all we had) and a Danielle Steel novel (my idea, in case it got bored).

We were greeted at the side gate by the dog with four inches of its freshly chewed-thru leash hanging from its collar, its mouth forming an "I could have run away if I'd wanted to, but I like you" smile. This is similar to the "I could have slit your throat while you slept, but you're sweet and quirky" grin that you might receive from a friendly stranger the morning after you invited them home from a local bar on a lonesome, drunken night.

We would need to take additional security measures while we looked for its owner but hiring an armed guard and electrifying the fence were not within our means, so instead we quickly dog-proofed the garage. Then we arranged a plate of the newly purchased dry dog food and tossed the plastic squeeze toy in the shape of a bone in front of the Found Dog. She sniffed the food, and looked at us with a "Are you kidding me with this? Dry food?" look and pushed the toy bone aside like a seasoned gambler who'd been dealt a lousy hand.

Just then the phone rang. With glee I raced to get it, but it was not the Found Dog's owner. It was, however, an answer to an un-uttered prayer. It was a close friend, co-owner of two dogs. She was calling on an important, unrelated matter ("who wants frozen yogurt?"), but when she heard of our plight, she raced over with an extra leash, dog bed, wet food, fiber-filled chew toys that included squeaky sound effects, and lots of advice.

After securing the Found Dog in the garage (or "The G" as we began to call our improvised, canine version of The Oakwood apartments) we quickly made up our second batch of "Found Dog" fliers, this time on the computer, using a large display font (Helvetica, 72 point). This we copied onto bright orange paper. We plastered them all over, extending our target area to include several major cross streets, as well as two local dog parks. Then we went home and waited, watching local investigative reporter Joel Grover report on dirty bathrooms in fancy restaurants on NBC 4 LA, as late afternoon became evening.

Now, while I don't advocate the doping of athletes or animals, to ensure that all of the inhabitants of our household would get a good night's sleep, we administered one half of one very small tablet of an over-the-counter drug called Benadryl to the Found Dog, who by this time was showing no signs or plans of calming down. This was suggested to us by a very kind, wise friend who had used this method with her own dogs (on rare occasion) and assured us that it would not harm the Found Dog in any way. Of course I worried that the Found Dog would become hooked (think: Gia) and I felt guilty about the whole thing, but in the end, the idea of a good night's sleep won out over guilt. We hid the one half of one very small tablet inside a small serving of cottage cheese (it always worked for Grandma), and the Found Dog was none the wiser. After 45 minutes of roughhousing and bone chasing, the Found Dog changed into its pajamas and settled into its borrowed bed for its first night in "The G." As I tuned out the lights, I could see the silhouettes of our two cats, Lucy and Buddy, hunkered down at the kitchen table, involved in some sort of "why is there a dog on the premises?" summit meeting. The lack of attention on this very long day was beginning to take a toll on their egos.

The next morning, the cell phone started to ring with leads. Bad leads. Everyone called and reported in their best "good Samaritan" voices that they knew who Found Dog belonged to, and then each and every one of these fifteen callers directed us to that distraught lost dog owner who put up all the "Beautiful Lost Dog" posters in that local canyon area.

We began posting "Found Dog" notices on every available "Lost Pet" website we could find (, and We looked under the "Lost Dog" sections on all these sites to see if any owners' postings matched our Found Dog, and everywhere we looked we saw postings by that owner of the " Beautiful Lost Dog" from the signs in that local canyon area. But there was nothing about our "Lost Dog."

Another day, night, and one half of one small tablet of Benadryl passed with still no solid leads. We took pictures of the Found Dog (think: Rolling Stone magazine cover shoot) and created version #3 of our FOUND DOG poster, this time including a large photo with the words "FOUND DOG, " now in HELVETICA 96 point, and a few details plus our phone number. We printed this set on bright green cardstock, plastered them on any poles and walls we had previously missed, then took a trip to three local Humane Society/Dog Pounds to place fliers in the appropriate places.

A lovely, hygienically-challenged volunteer at Pound #2 told us that if we brought the Found Dog into the pound, they would photograph it and put it up on their website. This, of course, meant we would have to actually bring the Found Dog to the pound and leave it there for several days. We could pay a fee and they would call us if no owner appeared. But what if there was a mix-up with the paperwork, and they accidentally didn't call, and instead, they, you know, sent it to its final resting place? We couldn't bring ourselves to do this. Even I, a person who finds herself somewhat challenged in the "perfect-love and enthusiastic-admiration of dogs" department couldn't imagine leaving the Found Dog there.

We reasoned that if we had been the owners of this dog, this wonderful one-year-old "Liberian Rusky," we wouldn't just check the website of the local pound, but we'd get up off our fat asses (obviously the owner was a bit lazy because, come on, it'd been two days already) and come down to the pound and look for the dog and look through the found dog posters. Plus, if the actual owner were looking on websites, then he'd see our numerous postings all over the previously mentioned lost pet sites. We felt we had it covered, and we were not going to put our Found Dog in any of these dirty, sad animal prisons.

Just as we were returning from the cleanest, happiest of the three dirty, sad animal prisons, we received a phone call from a local dog walker. She was sure she'd seen signs in the last few days all over Los Feliz about a LOST "Liberian Rusky" and she'd seen our FOUND signs and she was positive it was the same dog. We questioned her about the "other" lost dog signs, the ones from the local canyon area, but she assured us she was talking about a different set of signs and these surely were of our Found Dog.

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