At the next door neighbor’s house, I rang the doorbell, which was also a video camera and an intercom. They could see me in real time on their smartphones. They could talk to me and ask a question if they wanted to. I waited a bit, and slowly turned around so they could get a good look at me and see the words on the back of my jacket: LOST PET RESCUE. They didn’t respond, so I left. Ten minutes later, a police car pulled up and asked me to step over to them. I explained who I was and why I was there. I gave the officer my card and showed where the cat’s owner lived, where there was a large lost-cat poster in front. She said okay, and I went on to the other neighbor’s yard. He was out front, and he told me I had permission to search his yard. When I came out, the police officer had finished talking to the people who called the police, and she just wanted a few items of information from me. Then she left. We finished the search without any other problems, except that we didn’t get specific permission to search about half of the yards in the intended area of the search. We did come upon several clues which gave us a direction of travel, and I have a good feeling that they will be able to locate the lost cat.
When you call the police on me and my dog, it’s not harmless. Even though nothing happened in this case, it always makes me uneasy to have my dog around someone with a gun. A police officer can shoot any dog at any time, for any reason, if they say they feel intimidated by the dog. Probably a lot of police officers like dogs, and hopefully very few would shoot a dog if they could possibly avoid it. I do know of instances where police have shot dogs first, without trying any other sort of alternative approach. If anyone were to try to shoot my Mu, of course, they would have to shoot through me. I kept my body between the officer and Mu at all times, even though she seemed calm and relaxed. Why would you call the police if someone rang your doorbell? Especially if you could say, “Hey, what do you want?” I’m 6’3”, wearing a unique jacket that clearly identifies me. I have an 85 pound dog wearing a bright orange vest that says SEARCH. My presence in the neighborhood was announced ahead of time. It seems like a poor strategy for a burglar to be so conspicuous and easily identifiable. They had me on camera, clearly. I could see the doorbell camera was functional because it reacted when I pressed the button. Why call the police for this? When was the last time anyone was robbed by a man with a dog with a search vest?
I am aware that every time I take Mu on a search, I am putting him at risk. We could run into an irate homeowner with a gun, whose wife gave us permission to search, but didn’t tell him. (This has happened before.) There are yellow jackets. Probably someone has sprayed their lawn with pesticides. There are cars and traffic. Off leash dogs suddenly come rushing up at us. Also, there can be rat poison. On this search, at one house, the tenant told me that the landlord had put out rat poison, just out on the ground, not in the black box it’s supposed to be in. One of the tenants of the building has a dog who was sickened by the rat poison, and nearly died. They had tried to pick up all of the rat poison, but they couldn’t guarantee they got it all. I do my best to minimize the risk to Mu on every search we do. Human stupidity is so illogical and unpredictable that it’s hard to safeguard Mu from every conceivable act of stupidity. When we are searching, I pay attention to everything all the time. The direction of the wind, Mu’s body language, the type, size, and distribution of feces on the ground, footprints, surveillance cameras, spider webs, scratch marks on fences that show where a cat has gone, and minute cat hairs on the bottom boards of a fence, light orange in this case, which probably show which way the lost cat went. Using a search dog is not just wandering around behind him and letting him find the lost cat. My mind is paying attention to ten things at any given moment. Most of all, I am looking for threats to my Mu, so I can keep him safe.