Many people don’t realize how important having an identification tag on your pet is. Having worked in pet shops, it is really brought home to you when you hear the stories that your customers tell you when they come in to purchase a tag. It may just be as simple as their dog got through a hole in the backyard fence, or someone came home and the dog shot out the door before they got it closed.
One of the best stories I ever heard (it had a happy ending) was about one of my customers and their Viszla, Ginger. They took Ginger everywhere with them and had gone camping with her to the Great Smokey Mountains National Park. Mr. Jones (not their real name) took Ginger for a walk with him while Mrs. Jones stayed behind to tidy up after breakfast. Mr. Jones and Ginger took a walk on a hiking trail that wound up a rise to a peak between two valleys that they could walk along. The scenery was beautiful, until they saw a herd of deer. Ginger, true to her breed, took off after the deer and disappeared into one of the valleys below. Mr. Jones did his best to keep up and while he was in good shape, never had a chance.
Mr. Jones walked through the valley for hours and finally had to give up as it was getting late. He was devastated, he lost their best friend and she had no tags on. He hiked back to their campsite, trying to figure out the best way to tell his wife and try to figure out how to go about finding Ginger in a park that encompasses over 521,621.15 acres (as of September 23, 2000). So imagine his surprise and delight when he got back to their campsite and Ginger came running up to greet him. He was so happy he started to cry and then he had to explain to his befuddled wife why he was crying. She began laughing and explained to him that Ginger came back about two hours after they had started out. Ginger was smart enough to track her way back to her favorite people. While this story has a happy ending they don’t always. Needless to say after they got back from vacation, they came in and got her a complete set of tags.
While microchipping and tattoos are good, not all shelters have universal microchip readers. In my opinion having a tag on a dog is a good, simple and inexpensive way to get your dog home. There are different schools of thought of what kind of information to put on your dog tag. Some people don’t advocate putting your pet’s name on their tag. I personally tag all my animals with their name, my name, my address and two phone numbers. I put on my home number and a number of a family member that can be reached in case of an emergency and I am not available; as I don’t have a cell phone. I used to put a home and office number on my tags, but now I work from home, so Skye actually has the breeder’s phone number on her tag also. She has a second tag on with the medication that she needs to take and the vet’s phone number. I also like to use a tag that is made out of stainless steel, as I have had problems with tag breakage and chewing on tags that are not stainless steel. But I have a dog that is very oral and loves to chew.
There are many options when you buy a pet tag today, some companies even have a number that can be called 24/7 and store your dog’s medical records; which can make it easier to retrieve them and get them home safely. Even something as simple as a rabies tag, can get your pet home again; I know because I traced a dog’s owner that way. Do your homework and get what works for you, because if your pet gets lost, they can’t ask a policeman to help them get home again.