"The Search for Brandy"
by Susana Rosende

(Photo of Brandy)

On Sunday, September 13th, 1998, 5:30 PM, our two Shih Tzus, Lucky and Brandy,
dug out from underneath our backyard fence. They'd been in the backyard for twenty minutes.
My children and I immediately began an intense neighborhood search, calling
for our dogs, and knocking on neighbors' doors.
Two hours later, a panting, muddy Lucky came home alone.
(Photo of Joey with Lucky.)

That week, the search campaign for Brandy intensified,
as family members and I visited local animal shelters,
posted flyers and signs in pet shops and vet's offices,
delivered flyers door-to-door in our subdivision and those nearby,
put signs in several intersections, and placed an ad in the local paper.

As week one stretched into two, we received calls from people who claimed
to have found every kind of dog imaginable, other than a Shih Tzu,
(including a 75 lb. Great Dane), to people offering to give or sell us their Shih Tzu,
to Shih Tzu breeders offering new puppies!
Though family, friends, co-workers, and neighbors were generally supportive and optimistic,
there were cynics who advised us to give up our search.

They reasoned, "Shih Tzus are purebred dogs. Someone may have stolen Brandy to breed her!"
They chastized me for giving my kids "false hopes" they'd see their puppy again.
The longer a dog is missing, the less likely it is he'll be found.

Despite the odds, I continued my campaign to recover Brandy,
following the advice of local humane societies
and animal control centers.

When I was about to give up, I received a call from a woman who'd found a dog
while working the midnight shift at a toll booth. The puppy had narrowly escaped being hit by a car!
The woman had run from the toll booth, grabbed her, and kept her until the end of her shift.
Then, she took the puppy home to her family. Her youngest daughter, eight-year old Bonnie,
named the dog "Candy."
They'd had the dog for two weeks.

The woman's husband had read my ad in the Lost and Found. He asked his wife,
"Could Brandy be our Candy?" They believed "Candy" was a Lhasa Apso,
a breed closely resembling the Shih Tzu. After a family discussion, they decided to call me.
They would keep Brandy only if her true owners could not be found.

I was weary from a rash of "mistaken identities." Recently alerted to a Shih Tzu pickup,
I'd broken the speed limit to the animal shelter to discover a young, female white and gold Shih Tzu...
but, NOT Brandy.

Half-heartedly, I agreed to meet the woman.
As advised, I met her in a public place; the local shopping center.
My twelve year old son, Brian, was optimistic as I relayed details from the phone call.
* The puppy immediately answered to "Candy" which rhymes with "Brandy."
* She was gold and white and gray.
* She followed the family's rottweiller around the home (just as Brandy follows Lucky).
* She preferred going in the back yard, rather than on newspapers.
* But most of all, the puppy habitually stole socks from the laundry basket!
Too many matching details! It couldn't be coincidence!

Yet, I cautioned Brian to prepare for the worse.


Soon, the moment of truth arrived. Brian and I spotted a blonde woman and little girl
crossing the parking lot with a puppy.

It was our Brandy!!!

The little girl wept as they surrendered our dog,
while Brandy excitedly licked Brian's face.

We were lucky on many counts.
This family had not only saved Brandy's life,
but had taken excellent care of her.
Since being found, she'd been bathed several times
and had shared Bonnie's bed every night.
The majority of lost pets do not fare as well.

More grateful than I could ever convey, I handed the family their $200 reward.
The woman promised her little girl a new puppy.

My research indicates most lost dogs are recovered within a two month period,
largely within the first two weeks.
Sunday, September 27th, 1998 would have been two weeks exactly!

It was surprising that Brandy had run so far from home,
but I've learned that pets can travel far when experiencing their first heat.

I'm grateful Brandy is back home.
And I'm forever grateful to the selfless family who loved our dog,
but were sensitive to her original owners.

Since Brandy's come home, I've patched all escape routes in our fence
and have gotten both dogs spayed.
I've ensured Lucky and Brandy --the real "Lucky"-- are wearing collars
with both I.D. and Rabies tags at all times.
(Photo of Lucky and Brandy in backyard, on Joey's sandbox turtle.)

Most of all, I never leave the dogs in the backyard ALONE any more!

(Photos of Brian with Brandy in top photo; with Lucky in bottom photo.)

(Photo of Brandy today.)

What to do when your dog is lost:

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