This is an account of the loss and recovery of my dog Mishka, whose recovery was made possible by the unwavering effort, honed experience and talent of Karin TarQwyn and her K9 investigators.
My dog Mishka was lost by the dog boarding facility that was responsible for her care while I was to be traveling out of town for the Thanksgiving holiday. Mishka, an energetic black dog of medium size, was a good jumper. She also hated to be separated from me. I dropped her off at the boarding facility the Wednesday morning before Thanksgiving Day. She was lost by 4pm the same day. Mishka evidently jumped the 6-foot fence of the playpen inside the boarding facility, and the facility staff unwittingly opened in sequence every door that barred her way to the exit. Mishka was on the run for a total of ten days before her recovery; a recovery which was 100% made possible by Karin and her canine colleagues.
Karin's advice and first-hand knowledge throughout the recovery process was as valuable as the amazing scent-seeking noses and skill of her canine colleagues. Because of her years of experience, Karin was able to accurately profile my dog in minutes, to use aerial maps of my town to hypothesize correctly where Mishka would be running and hiding out, and to provide an unflagging professional approach and marketing technique.
Karin's commitment to her client and the recovery of the missing pet is evident. Within moments of speaking with me, she drafted a stylish sign and mapped out the canvassing approach we would take; she reviewed topographical features and major intersections with my boyfriend and outlined how and where to hang signs for optimal notice. I never would have thought about the need for signs to look professional and attractive to avoid being removed by city-workers, and Karin had so many tricks for successfully hanging the signs too. I had never thought to take a profile photo of my dog, so I had nothing appropriate for putting on the poster, but Karin had a solution for that too!
When we decided to hire Karin to help locate our dog in person, it was the most logical step we could take. Here was a successful professional in the business of finding missing dogs. When I spoke with Karin, she was always in between recovery efforts, juggling different missing dog cases all over the country - and not letting any of us down. She explained typical STARS dog behaviors and what I could expect to experience over the next few days.
Here was a woman I could respect and to whom I could relate. Just watching Karin work, one can see the admiration and respect she has for her dogs and for the emotional rollercoaster her client is going through. It was so easy and comforting to work with Karin because she's gone through the lost dog trial; she knows her client's fears, efforts and hopes. And she calms, commiserates, invigorates and cajoles at the appropriate times to make her client the best pet owner he/she can be in that situation. Because being at my best - clear headed, optimistic, rested, and focused - was a critical component to recovering my missing dog Mishka.
Karin communicates to her client and to her dogs with the same respectful and listening demeanor. It was fascinating watching her work, to the point where sometimes I was shocked that I was enjoying the experience, despite the grief I was undergoing in the process. But it was so rewarding watching Karin interact with her canine investigators; she understood their looks, their postures, stances and nose flares, she knew when they could go no further and knew when to push them onward. I would see the dog stop and wonder why, but Karin knew that they stopped because the brambles were too painful for them to walk over. I would think the dog was intently seeking a scent but Karin would know that the scent was crossed and with a simple command let the dog know to track the most recent scent. It was remarkable, and relieving, to see a process that could be applied to accurately navigate through the chaos and seeming hopelessness of the experience.
I saw the same talent applied by her to me. Karin kept telling me that my energy was my greatest resource in the effort to find Mishka - reminding me to eat, sleep and breathe. She knew when to put little Paco in my lap because I was on the verge of tears and needed some canine kisses. When I needed to feel like I was doing something, she let the dogs follow a scent past the point of purpose so that I had just that much more understanding of the path Mishka was following a few hours earlier. Karin explained the process to me, so I could comprehend what her dogs were trying to tell her and to relay to me in the field. I was encouraged to run with her and the dogs, as was my mom, so that I could see where my dog had been and how her habits were developing.
The takeaways one gains from working with Karin and her team are diverse. Some concepts are so subtle one wonders they were never known before. Other skills are so developed and fine-tuned that one fears what may have been had Karin never been sought. When I think back at all the time I spent on futile web postings and internet searches, when I should have been resting; all the hours I spent yelling out of car windows and driving through unknown neighborhoods in the off-chance that my dog would be right there, I laugh incredulously now because those efforts seem so futile. But no one could have convinced me of that then. In those days before I contacted Karin, every effort on my part was one step closer to Mishka. When in reality, many of those efforts may have put me two steps backwards. Karin provided so much insight and guidance. How could I have known that a STARS dog is likely to be frightened by the volume and high-pitched sound of any person's screaming voice out of a car window, regardless of the voice belonging to the owner? I did not know that there were strategic ways of placing flyers and tried-and-true poster compositions and styles that were guaranteed to catch someone's eye. What did I know of public outreach? For that matter, what did I know of terrain and behavior analysis? What experience had I with easements, rail lines and other such means of traveling unseen through a town, or of ransom demands for dogs with rewards on their heads? I had to expend valuable time and effort to tear down flyers and rescind comments because I had advertised a reward and asked people to please help me find my dog. This resulted in people calling to ask me the reward amount, with no knowledge of the whereabouts of my dog, of people chasing my dog down in trucks to try and capture her for the reward, and of people approaching my dog when I should have known it would just scare her (she always runs from strangers).
Karin laid out a plan, and helped me stick to it. She taught me how to set dog traps, how to recognize dog and coyote scat, how to anticipate where Mishka would head and when. By the end of the five days working with Karin - we were able to rule out entire regions of the surrounding areas (despite there being two other missing dogs in the area that closely matched Mishka's description) and to hone in on the precise neighborhoods through which my black, medium sized dog was traveling. Karin's sign-strategy and media outreach resulted in dozens of sighting calls a day; through Karin's refined approach, I learned how to question callers to discern whether the sighting was a positive ID to my dog and worthy of being checked by the K9 investigators for positive scent. The distressed pet owner wants to respond to every sighting with the physical presence of Karin's dogs; I desired to see the dogs confirm a positive scent or indicate a negative for every sighting. But there is simply not enough time and energy in any given day to do so much work. Karin trained me to think, be proactive, and work strategically through the approach that Karin outlines. Question the callers with the series outlined in Karin's manual and make a choice: could this be my dog? Or, is my time better spent responding to the other sighting that is in an area more likely to be traversed by my dog? Choose wisely, and if you can't choose, heed Karin's advice; she won't misguide.
We did check dozens of sightings, mapped the positive and negative scent locations, and discovered that Mishka was basically traversing a 3.5 miles long by .5 mile wide area that stretched out over major roads, forested areas, power line easements and rail lines, but was basically surrounded by highways - over which Mishka had not yet ventured. That was our lead. She was criss-crossing major roads several times a day. She was traveling rail lines that reeked of coyote scent and were littered in coyote scat. Mishka visited dumpsters at shopping centers she had driven past in my car, and possibly was surviving off of cat food and dumpster scraps. Karin showed me how to recognize when a dog was eating left out food, versus another type of domestic or wild animal; if there was scattered food and every piece was gone, then you had a hungry dog on your hands. Then we started receiving sightings in the same areas at certain times of the day. This allowed me to know where to expect Mishka to be in the hours between 7 and 9 am and the hours of 6 and 9pm. It is no wonder that most sightings of my black dog were during daylight hours and when people were driving to and from work! That didn't mean that Mishka wasn't moving at other times, but it was more likely she was resting during the day and was active at morning and night, mirroring her feeding and activity routine that she followed when home. This allowed us to redouble and focus efforts in the designated areas to the morning and evening hours.
Karin's fame and success rate made her a prime interest for major television stations; our story was picked up by the news and Karin got the dog poster and my number out to the public repeatedly. And in the end, on the morning that Karin and her team had to leave town, I received back-to-back calls from good Samaritans that had seen us on the news that Mishka had been sighted, and because Karin and her dogs had told me where to focus my search - I was so nearby to the sighting that I was able to respond in less than 5 minutes. Within 15 minutes, I spotted my dog about to run back into the wood stand (a stand that Karin had highlighted on our search route), and within seconds of hearing my quiet, and calm voice Mishka had run straight into my open arms.
I know this is a long story but I want others like me with a missing dog to understand how important it is to have someone like Karin on your side. Mishka would not be home with her. Thank You Karin and K9s!
L. Smulcer Colombus, GA.
Missing 19 days... 17 days with no sightings...The call goes out to Karin.
COCOA HAS BEEN CAPTURED!
It's our wedding anniversary today and we couldn't ask for a better gift!
Thank you Karin TarQwyn for instructing me as to what to do. Your knowledge was invaluable and telling me "she was out there somewhere" stayed with me and gave me hope.Tammy Siefert, Plover, Wisconsin
Around the world... From a Pet Owner in England
Karin, Karin, Karin...
How can I ever thank you? I have my little dog back after 4 weeks.
She was stolen from our village and taken 2 hours away so we were very lucky. We put it down to your campaign and signage you did for me. We have now covered all the surrounding villages and every weekend we were out in the community. I also managed to get an article in the local paper with her photo.
The lady who had her did not want to give her back but as you said... someone always eventually talks!!!
You have been fantastic and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for first giving me hope, second for giving me direction and finally your website and stories kept me constantly motivated when there were times I felt I wasn't going to get her back.
Anytime you want a visit to England you are always welcome here. Much Love and thanks Fiona. xxx
From a Missing Pet Partnership Pet Detective:
"If my dog went missing, I would call Karin TarQwyn. I even have that on the emergency contact on the boarding agreement where I board my dog." Certified Missing Pet Partnership Pet Detective
Hi Karin, I just wanted to thank you for your help in finding Max.
Our daughter was watching him for us at her house while we were out of town and he escaped out of her front door on Friday evening June 3rd. We came home and searched all night Friday, and the rest of the weekend. We put up some small flyers in the area, filed lost reports with all of the shelters, and did everything that we could think of to find him, with no luck.
We saw your ad on Craigslist on Wednesday and called you right away. We implemented your community awareness campaign and strategy. We had most of the signs up by Wednesday evening. On Sunday June 12th. someone saw one of the signs and called to say that they had seen Max in an open field behind their house, both Saturday and Sunday the week before. They tried to get him to come to them with treats etc, but he would not let them get close.
We were headed over to the area to search when we got another call. The same people that called us decided to go out in the field where they had last seen Max... they found Max's remains. Unfortunately he had been killed by a Coyote.
This was obviously not the outcome we had hoped for, but one of the hardest parts of this ordeal was the uncertainty and not knowing if Max was still out there or if he was suffering.
Without your help we would have never been able to get any closure and would probably still be out searching for him, and wondering. Your process worked exactly as you said it would, and we appreciate the help and guidance you gave us. Thanks again, -Brian in Arvata, CO.
My Suggestion... CALL KARIN FIRST! We lost our dog 11 days ago. We put up fliers, walked house to house, went to the pound every other day, posted on Facebook, placed into on Craig's List and local paper. We were exhausted and so very sad. Then - we called Karin. She spoke to us in the evening, prepared signage and made arrangements to meet us with her dogs in the morning. One hour after her and her search dogs arrived...our dog was in our arms. Awesome! You guys are great! Use us anytime for references, it was a a quick recovery. We can't thank you enough that you were here during our time of need. Again great job you & your team did.. All the best Abby, Suzy and Jack Nelson ...Redwood City, CA.
STOLEN...Missing 5 days...HOME within 48 hours of the call to Karin.
"I want to thank Karin Tarqwyn, she is a Pet Detective that we hired from Nebraska who truly is amazing. Without her guidance and help, I don't believe we would've had the happy ending that we did on Thanksgiving Day. God Bless you and Thank you so much. For those who's lost their pets, you should seriously consider hiring her, google her name. She truly is the world's best." W. Cheng Queens, NY
DIESEL IS HOME! That much awaited call was received @1:30pm from PHS. Diesel was found in Daly City close to the 280 Freeway entrance where Karin TarQwyn told us to look.
Special thanks to Karin TarQwyn- I've learned so much from you! For those who need help finding their missing pet - reach out to her, she is really good! M. Torres...San Bruno, CA
There's MORE to say... She is the best.
For the Quickest Response Call: 888-569-5775
Hi Karin, Rufus and I were reunited last night, 20 miles from my house!
He still had his thundershirt on, his collar and tags, and even his brown bandana, which I'm going to frame. He's in remarkably great shape: he has a surface abrasion on his back left leg and is limping a little on his front left leg, and had a pretty bad case of fleas...but otherwise, is perfectly fine!
I can't thank you both enough for all your help through this process. He was sighted seven times from last Wed evening, 6/1 to yesterday morning, 6/6, all in Montebello. Each time I got a sighting, that created my new POD--and I had an amazing set of friends and family who helped me blanket each sighting area with posters/flyers/interviews, etc. Although he migrated another 8 miles south to Pico Rivera from Montebello, I KNOW that the collective positive energy and chatter throughout Montebello had something to do with him finally deciding that his "walkabout" was over. Or, he just really wanted another hot dog.
So THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU for your expertise and guidance through this. I know I am super-lucky. And I am so very grateful. Meg M. in Montebello, CA.