Miko the dog comes home after help from psychics and social media
The missing dog hunt reached 70,000 people on Facebook
It’s a story that includes psychics, pet detectives and the power of Facebook shares, and after 11 days, Miko the schnauzer mix is home.
The hunt for the puppy, which captivated Hamilton to the point where strangers formed search parties, ended on Wednesday when the dog was found on the Mountain, far from his home on Eastbourne Avenue. The missing dog hunt reached 70,000 people on Facebook and drew broad interest, including a psychic who said the dog was near a white clapboard house.
It’s a testament to the power of Hamilton social media, said Julie Densham, Miko’s owner. Now she’s dedicated to helping other people find their pets with her new Facebook page, Hamilton Pet Search and Rescue.
Densham is still amazed at the community support.
“One senior called me and said she couldn’t get out to help, but she was checking my page every hour,” said Densham.
“This is mostly about Hamilton.”
Poster resonated with people
Densham moved to Hamilton from Niagara less than a year ago to take a new job as a foundation development officer with the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board.
On Dec. 27, she was taking out the garbage. When she opened the garage door, 10-month-old Miko ran out and away.
When he didn’t come back by morning, Densham made a poster and put it on Facebook. The image of the little 25-pound dog, which needs diabetes medication, drew interest. Within a week, it had netted thousands of shares. Densham received regular phone calls and emails from people wanting to help.
“Whether it resonated with them, whether they remembered, I don’t know,” she said. “But it went across North America after a couple of days.”
With those offers, she formed volunteer teams to scour parts of Hamilton. Gage Park became “ground zero” for the search, since a man who lives near the park called her to say he thought he’d seen the dog. About 10 people she’d never met before came out to help her. She searched every day.
Psychic called about a white building
More tips came. A woman with psychic tendencies called Densham and told her the dog was near a white clapboard building, and also mentioned a lighthouse. With every tip, Densham and her new friends went out with flashlights and dog treats, searching for hours. She also called a pet detective, who couldn't help. After days of tips and searches, she narrowed the hunt to the area near Upper Gage Ave. and Mountain Brow Blvd., convinced that Miko was living in the forested area there.
Finally, Densham got a call on Jan. 7 about another Miko sighting, and at the advice of Hamilton Animal Services, went there with smelly cat food. She’d always searched for her dog during busy hours with lots of foot traffic. This time, there was no one around.
She heard a faint, high-pitched yelp and when she followed it, spotted Miko. But the little dog was skittish. He stood frozen as he looked at her warily, as if he didn’t know her.
Densham knew the moment was crucial. She didn't think Miko would survive long in last week's frigid temperatures. She’d heard stories of the owners of long-missing dogs having to devise traps and capture missing pets that had become feral, forgetting their owners or how to live with humans.
Mind racing, she took off her glasses, hat, mittens and coat and dropped to the ground. She was freezing, but she lay there calmly, “trying to look like it was a perfect spot for a dog to lay.” The whole time, she whispered “hi” repeatedly to assure him.
Found him near a white building
Miko approached her warily at first, not sure what to make of the treats she threw at him. When he got to her, he jumped on her and licked her face. She wrapped him in her coat and took him to the car.
It happened right under a hydro tower in the shape of a lighthouse, near a white apartment building.
His paws are tender and he's a little bit thinner, she said. Otherwise, he's in good health.
Densham is now dedicated to helping people find their lost pets. She’s learned a few lessons, she said.
“I learned that Hamilton is a vibrant and caring community and when I asked for help, it was there for me,” she wrote on Facebook. “I learned that a community isn’t determined by crossroads or postal codes.”