If you’d lost a dog six months ago, chances are you would have given up finding it by now and moved on.
Not J. Duncan of Buford.
She’s been advertising in local and the Atlanta papers and on the Internet offering a $1,200 reward since last November when Taz, a chocolate toy poodle wearing a bright pink shirt, ran from her house. She also visits animal shelters in Hall, Gwinnett, Barrow and Forsyth counties at least weekly. Magnetic signs on her car carry a photo of the dog and the offer of a reward.
She has put up so many posters pleading for help in finding the pet that she got in trouble with the police.
Duncan was volunteering for a crisis helpline one day last November when her husband fainted in their front yard. A neighbor called 911. After reviving the man, an ambulance worker went into the house to retrieve insurance papers, and that’s when the dog got out, Duncan said.
As soon as her husband was OK, she began to hunt for the dog. For eight hours nonstop, she says she covered a 35-mile radius of her home. She doesn’t believe Taz was a victim of a coyote or other predator animal.
Duncan is an unabashed animal lover, having had pets since she was 3 years old, usually at least one poodle, and some horses. Taz came from a Thomaston breeder when it was 6 weeks old. It will be 2 years old next month.
The dog wasn’t wearing a collar when it went missing because it is allowed outside the house rarely, and then only in the large fenced backyard when Duncan is with it. She says she’s heard of dogs injured or dying because their collars caught on furniture or something inside a house. Neither was Taz microchipped, she said, because it was an “inside” dog.
Duncan’s relentless search hasn’t been successful as far as finding Taz, but she has acquired a couple of other poodles along the way.
She has received scores of calls and e-mails from people trying to help, though she’s also had some crank or harassing calls. One day she got word that a brown toy poodle meeting Taz’s description was about to be euthanized in an animal shelter in Newton County. She’d have to be there by 11 a.m. to see it.
Duncan rushed to Covington, but the dog wasn’t Taz. Workers said nobody wanted the poodle because it was unruly, snapping and trying to bite anybody who approached it. Duncan saw immediately that the dog had been abused and carried scars to prove it. She told the worker the dog couldn’t be euthanized because she was going to adopt it.
The dog didn’t resist when she took it, nor does it snap at or try to bite her now. “Somebody was so mean to that dog, when I reach out to pet her, she buries her head in the corner of her bed and covers her head with her paws,” Duncan said.
Another time during her search for Taz, Duncan ran across another poodle, a white one apparently abandoned and running loose in traffic on a busy road. She rescued it and has tried to find its owner. Duncan said the owner would only have to pay the veterinary bill to claim it. She also posted signs and ads on the Internet and in local papers trying to locate the owner.
So after taking in two other poodles, why would anybody go to so much trouble, offer such a large reward and continue to search for months for a tiny dog that disappeared?
Duncan’s answer: “It’s like my family. I really bonded with this dog (Taz). It’s worth $1,200 to me, but not to somebody else. They couldn’t get but a couple of hundred dollars if they sold it, so maybe they’ll return it to me for $1,200. Somebody must have it. They might say they don’t want to give up this cute little lap dog. Or they might think that the owner didn’t really care if they let it out of the house. But we didn’t let it out; it got out by accident. I hope somebody by seeing my ads will understand. It’s been a nightmare for me.”
Duncan’s phone number is 770-633-1994; email, email@example.com.
Johnny Vardeman is retired editor of The Times. He can be reached at 2183 Pinetree Circle NE, Gainesville, GA 30501. His column appears Sundays and at gainesvilletimes.com/johnny.