Monday, August 8, 2011

Search & Rescue

***Warning: Incredibly Long Post Explaining Bandit & the Newbie... Read If You Care!***

I'd like to go ahead and introduce a new addition to the "family"... Dolly. I know I haven't posted a lot since we came home from the Caymans to Bandit missing but I feel like I should go ahead and fill you in on the past two months! 

From the minute I got off the plane, I spent all day looking for my baby boy. I would drive around town hollering his name and looking in people's back yards... Ordy started work and flew back out of town while I stayed behind making the search for Bandit a full time job- with overtime. I put in 14 hour search days that consisted of 5 mile walks through random neighborhoods, drives through the surrounding areas he was last spotted, posting signs everywhere- and I mean EVERYWHERE, posting and researching Craigslist ads, going to all surrounding county's animal control, and finally- going door to door knocking and leaving my phone number at people's houses. I launched a full on social media campaign to get the word out. I would tweet random people and was never embarrassed to ask for them to keep their eyes peeled - anything to get him back. We even got a local news article about "Operation Bring Bandit Home". 

I was killing myself making it my mission to find my baby. I could hardly sleep thinking he might be out in a dumpster looking for food. I would wake up the minute the sun came up to start my daily routine of different shelters and hollering. Ordy was so understanding. I would randomly cry, or randomly in the middle of a conversation look out a window and say, "I wonder if he's ok? I wonder if he's fed?" It killed me to think he was dying of heat exhaustion with his black coat. I hoped that he was taken care of but I mainly hoped that someone would see our millions of signs around town. I had people recognize me at the shelters and at the Office Depot where I would go in every day for 50 more fliers. After the first week of no sign of Bandit, Ordy Boy took an early flight back home to help me search and make sure I was ok. 

 We searched up and down the rail road tracks, where most dogs follow when they get it since it's a straight line and easy to follow. He was also spotted up and down various points off the track so we figured he'd be there. He wasn't. 

We would ask random people whose property would back up to the rail road tracks and a creek to roam their property. They were more than willing to allow us to search for him in the 40 acre field. It would have been a lost dog's haven, but no Bandit. 

 We searched the Silver Comet Trail where we put signs up and down the trail. We asked people who looked like regular joggers and asked them to call the number in case they saw him. 

I finally decided to turn my car into a mobile billboard. I was desperate and didn't care what anyone thought. In fact, it's been 2 months and it's STILL on my car. Just in case. 

We drove all around all hours of the day and night just hollering his name. People on their porches would be so sympathetic and wave to us wishing us luck. Some people were nice enough to say they wanted to join us on our hunt {random strangers!!}. Our church family really stepped up to the plate and helped us search night after night. Some nights, Ordy would go look for him at 2 am at local restaurant dumpsters. Can't say we didn't try. In fact, I almost killed myself trying. I would randomly just bawl uncontrollably. Hiccuping, begging God for a reason why I lost my baby. What made him dig out 18 hours before our flight got back home? What made him dig out at all- it was SO UNLIKE HIM! I had no appetite and lost 11 pounds in the first week (don't worry, I gained it all back) and my hair was just falling out in chunks. I ended up having to chop it off a good bit gradually. 

I would go to 1 of the 4 Animal Control and go kennel after kennel anticipating coming across Bandit's sad eyes waiting for his mommy to save him. Day after day for a few weeks I would come across a black pit bull with a striking resemblance to him. It always made my heart do a funny thing even though I knew the dog was 1) a girl and 2) half his size 3) 6 months old. 

The first time I saw her- nothing. Second time, still nothing. Third time, I swear she started to recognize me and I saw a tail wag - very minor. Fourth time, she was laying down and I saw another gentle tail wag- not anything too exciting, she wouldn't even lift her head. Finally, on my fifth or sixth trip I snuck her in a dog treat. She wagged her tail and it was a 'thank you' enough. A week later I went back and she was jumping on the gate at the sight of me just wagging her tail like there was a motor on it. If you follow me on twitter, you'd know I joked around and called her "Smokey". 

I felt like the least I could do on these visits was to let her out in the "bonding room" and give her some human interaction since I highly doubt the prison help at the shelter was doing any. 

She was so loving and sweet- I could already see so much of Bandit in her. However, I was in no way ready for a puppy, or a replacement. I would go every day looking for Bandit and just feel better giving her a few minutes of my day- as I would pray for a good family for her. 

Her story: her family left her when they moved so she was abandoned in an empty house for quite some time. The neighbors realized and turned her into animal control. They knew enough about her to fill out some information- like her original name, "Manage" whaaaa? what kind of name is that?! The good thing though was that they had "good with kids" check marked. So the family must have had children. 

After a few of our visits, I would tell Ordy I wanted to test and see if she would let me carry her- the true test of a gentle pup. I was just as scared as she was since I didn't know any of her 'hot-spots' and what would potentially make her snap. I slowly picked her up and she loved every minute of it. I felt bad for her since I knew that she was in a cockroach infested shelter, but I REALLY felt bad that black dogs and pit bulls are the top of the list at high-kill shelters- they're the "unlove-ables"- I felt so bad that she was both. A black pit is the least likely dog at a shelter to be adopted. I started to feel sick for Bandit. Great. I would go to bed at nights worrying about two dogs. 

I went to the shelter one Sunday with Ordy and we found out that Dolly's clock was ticking fast- and expiring sooner than we'd like. I couldn't go through with getting her because I felt like it was replacing Bandit, even though I knew I would still continue to search for him. We left the shelter and left Dolly behind- faced with a lot of decisions. I sat in Ordy's truck and he looked at me before we left the shelter and said, "Babe, are you prepared to lose TWO good dogs?" I realized I wasn't. Even if Bandit never came back, I couldn't stomach losing Dolly for no good reason. The least I could do was adopt Dolly and foster her until Bandit resurfaced- buy her more time. We'll see how that goes... We walked back to the shelter and got that poor girl. She was so excited to leave with us. 

 She resembled Bandit so much we were in shock. We were more shocked when she was acting like him. 

She definitely struggles with separation anxiety. The first week was miserable with her- in a sad pathetic way. She didn't go out of my sight. She would crawl in the shower with me and wouldn't even eat unless she saw my feet and knew I was standing by her. 

crazy dog

She would CHOKE herself just to sit on my lap but after a few firm lessons and treats she kind of got the hang of it. She still shakes a lot and has anxiety but it's not as bad as the first few days! 

Some of you know the few weeks after her adoption was no walk in the park. She was extremely sick with constant hacking and throwing up and couldn't keep anything down. Her separation anxiety was out of this world! Thankfully, she is doing SO Much better {after racking up a hefty vet bill} and is learning to cope with me showering ALONE!

As for Bandit, we still look for him at shelters, on Craigslist, and just word of mouth. We are always hopeful for a tip or a call. I'm still praying nonstop for him and hope you will too. It gets harder the more time passes, not easier... I can't stop thinking where he is or if he's safe. I know he's handsome and well behaved so I could see someone keeping him, I just pray someone spots him from a flier or they realize he belongs to someone and tries to get him back to his owner... Anyhow, that was a full update on the pooch situation! I know lots of people have been asking about both dogs and I've been meaning to put this post together for quite some time- thanks for your patience! 


  1. first time commenting, but I read all the time...we just saved a rescue dog this weekend! also black, but not pit (his name is Dexter Morgan lol ;o) I'm so happy Dolly has a loving home now. but Im still praying for Bandit's safe return.

  2. Why did you not put a "may cause tears" warning at the top of this post??? Seriously!

    I am happy you have a new sweet pup but still think and pray for your Bandit often. :)

  3. This made me tear up. My heart hurts for you, and Bandit. I like to think that Bandit found a family that loves him as much as you did and doesn't want to give him back. Molly is lucky times a million for your care and love. My fur baby is like my child, and I understand how you feel. Praying for Bandit. <3

  4. I'm happy to see that you are taking care of your new pup & she is doing so well! My 8 year old daughter likes to keep a look out for Bandit {although we live in Marietta!} on a daily basis. We have prayed that he is safe & loved...and returns to you that way!

  5. {tears} So sad..yet happy for you and Dolly. I can't imagine losing my pooch. I hope everything works out for you.

  6. i've never posted here before but feel compelled to let you know that i have been praying for bandit's safe return since reading your heartbreaking post about him being lost. i've been checking back every couple of days, crossing my fingers, hoping to see...."WE FOUND HIM!" i'm glad there is an updated story, especially about dolly, but am soo disappointed that bandit is still not home with his mommy:-( but i will continue to pray for his safe return and know he will be tearing up the house with dolly very soon. in the meantime, i wish you all the best as you begin this new journey with your hubby to be. you are a wonderful person and the overabundance of love you have for bandit and dolly shows what an amazing mom you will be one day!

  7. I love/hate this post.... I miss Bandit barking/wanting to eat me... I truly believe I was the only person he did that with probably because I was a little too crazy even for him haha... and also because I would "attack" you on the few occasions I got to see you! The true test of Dolly will be how she reacts to me haha ;) I pray B comes back though... so he can have a little sister to play with!

  8. It breaks my heart to read everything you have been going through the last two months. It is good to hear that the new puppy is bringing you some joy! I will continue to pray for Bandit's safe return.

    Big hugs!

  9. Oh Joon this is so sweet and happy and sad at the same time. I love that you saved Dolly - she seems like such a sweetheart and I'm so glad she's not so scared anymore.
    We'll keep praying for Bandit that he comes home soon!

  10. Ok, I'm bawling now. I am so happy that you brought Dolly into your family - seems like a perfect match! I'll start praying that you guys find Bandit -- I can't even imagine losing one of my dogs.

    BTW, my childhood dog was named Bandit!

  11. Oh, man. I'm in tears reading this. I'm so sorry that Bandit is missing, but you and your fiance are such special people to open your hearts to another puppy. I pray that Bandit is found soon and that he's safe and healthy. Dolly looks like such a sweet girl, and I am glad she'll have a good home with you. You'd better believe my puppy will be getting some extra lovings tonight. Like you, I don't care if people think I'm nuts. My animals are my kids, and I love on them like crazy! Good luck with the new puppy, and I hope, hope, hope Bandit comes home soon!!