Toba is a very smart dog. He’s half German Pointer and half Irish Setter – a hunting dog through and through. He is attentive, ready to learn, and adept at figuring things out on his own. In this case, that means opening the back door with his nose and tunneling his way through the fence to freedom. I adopted Toba in January 2022. He is my first dog, and I rescued him from the West Vancouver branch of the SPCA. He had all of his shots, and had a microchip implanted and registered with the BC Pet Registry in case anything ever went wrong. As it turns out, this microchip and the registry would be a lifesaver just a few months down the road.
Sometime in mid-April, I took Toba to Sunset Dog Park on a particularly wet day. There, he met a fellow German Pointer and they spent a majority of their time running laps of the park, wrestling in the mud, and trying to see who could fit more of the other’s face in their mouth. To say the least, when we got home more than an hour later, Toba was soaking wet and covered with dirt and slobber. I resolved it was time to give him that bath I’d been putting off for the past two weeks. Reluctantly, his collar was removed and he was ushered, tail tucked, into the bathtub. Unfortunately, due to the nature of his double coat, he tends to remain damp even after the application of a blowdryer. For this reason, I opted not to put his collar back on, which would, it turns out, be the first mistake of the weekend.
The next day I had to get to work early, so I quickly let Toba into the backyard to do his business, and received confirmation from my roommate that they would take him out for a proper walk in an hour or so. In my haste to get ready, I forgot to lock the backdoor after Toba came back in. For most dogs, this might not have been a big issue, but for Toba, this was a one-way ticket to freedom. You see, when Toba wants to get our attention, he uses his nose to hit the door handle on the backdoor. In the past, there had been a few occasions when he had hit the handle hard enough that the door opened, but rather than escape to freedom, he tended to stare blankly at us, awaiting further instruction. But with no supervision, when he bonked the handle on this fateful day, he had unrestricted access to the backyard.
About an hour after I left the house, I received a text from my roommate saying that Toba was nowhere to be found and that the backdoor was wide open. When I asked if he was in the backyard, my roommate went to investigate, and discovered that one of the fence boards had been pried loose and could be pushed to the side. As this was the only part of the yard that was not totally secured, he deduced that Toba had snuck through the hole and into the back alley. The issue was that after being pushed to the side, the fence board would slide back into place, blocking the only access point back into the yard. We figure that he pushed the board aside, wriggled through the hole, and once he made it out the board closed behind him. With no collar and no way back in, Toba had no choice but to venture forth.
Hearing that Toba was nowhere to be found immediately filled me with a sense of dread. Right away, I left my office to head home. While stressing about Toba on the bus, a good Samaritan had already brought Toba to a nearby animal hospital! Because of Toba’s microchip, and his registration with the BC Pet Registry, when the very kind person who found Toba brought him into the nearest animal hospital, the staff were able to scan his microchip and immediately access my contact information to reach me. Within just a few hours, we were joyfully reunited. Thanks to his chip, we were reunited quickly and without hassle.