Talking with Lost Dogs of Wisconsin volunteer…Colleen Duero

Colleen is an pleasant woman who does media outreach for Lost Dogs of Wisconsin and acts as one of the group’s caseworkers.  Like all of Lost Dogs of Wisconsin’s volunteers, Colleen is committed to reuniting as many lost pets as possible with their families.  Colleen sometimes uses some unique techniques to help track down a lost dog.  She doesn’t think twice about cooking some brats, for example, to try to lure a dog toward the residence of the family that misses its pet.

Caseworkers like Colleen work hand-in-hand with family members to find their lost pets throughout the entire time the dogs are missing.  They are just as valuable to Lost Dogs of Wisconsin’s effort to return dogs to their respective homes as the group’s website and Facebook page are.

Colleen recently sat down to answer some questions about her continued involvement with Lost Dogs of Wisconsin.  Here are her thoughtful responses:

How did you become involved with Lost Dogs of Wisconsin?

Basically, it was through Facebook and social networking.  There are so many animal advocates that use Facebook to reach out to others, who have the same goal.  One of the directors for Lost Dogs of Wisconsin recognized my interest in helping dogs and invited me to a meeting to learn more about the group.  When I learned how helping to reunite lost dogs with their owners can save so many lives of others in the shelters, it made me want to do more and more.  I didn’t realize at the time how involved I would actually become.  This group is truly helping to save dogs’ lives in many ways.  I am so grateful for what I have learned and wish there was a way for EVERYONE to understand how important it is to know “what to do” as soon as their dog goes missing…and, of course, “what to do” to help prevent a dog from getting lost in the first place.

Do you have any crazy stories related to your experience working with Lost Dogs of Wisconsin?

I don’t know if this is considered a “crazy” story, but it sticks with me so I will share it.  There was a very shy, timid Springer Spaniel named Abby, who was being fostered in Nashotah, WI.  Her foster parents did everything they could to keep Abby from escaping their home which was hard since she was never socialized and was still very afraid of people.  They kept a long leash on her while they were in the house.  In case she tried to get out, they would have that extra-long leash to grab onto to keep Abby inside.  But, this was not enough. 

One night when it started storming, Abby’s owner was coming in the front door just as a loud bolt of lightning struck. The noise caused Abby to jump up and bolt right out that door too fast for anyone to grab the leash. Her foster parents tried to get to her, but she just kept running further away.  Afterward, flyers, signs, and food areas were set up all over town, but there were still no signs of Abby anywhere. 

Over a week went by and there was a man kayaking who needed to make a phone call.  The wind was too strong and loud on the lake, however, so he paddled toward an inlet.  The inlet was very swampy, but it was covered with trees which helped to break the wind so he could make his phone call.  Just as he got into the swampy area, he heard a dog.  He was going to just ignore it, but something told him to do otherwise.  That’s when he remembered all the flyers in town, the flyers with pictures of the missing dog, Abby.  He paddled closer and closer and then – he saw her. It was Abby!  She was stuck; her long leash was completely entangled in vines and tree branches up to her neck, making it impossible for her to even move.  If it wasn’t for the windy day, the flyers, and the kayaker having to make that phone call, Abby would not be around today!! I will never forget this story, and love sharing it whenever possible!  Also, Abby is doing great now and her foster parents ended up adopting her as their own!  

Why did you choose to start volunteering with Lost Dogs of Wisconsin?

I chose to volunteer my time with this particular group after I learned the impact lost dogs have on shelters and the lives of the other dogs.  The majority of dogs in shelters are lost dogs who were never found by their owners.  So if I can help in any way to free up space in shelters by assisting dog owners to find their lost dogs as quickly and safely as possible and by educating the public on lost dog prevention, I personally cannot think of a better way to volunteer my time.  I can’t think of anything else that would be as rewarding and helpful in saving so many dogs’ lives in the future.

Do the people who volunteer their time with Lost Dogs of Wisconsin have lives outside of the group?

Yes, we volunteers do have other lives outside of LDOW!   Most of my other time is spent with my husband, our two boys (ages 10 and 15) who keep us very busy, and, of course, our pets which include 4 dogs and 5 lovebirds.  My other passion is teaching and working with younger children. The pride and happiness they show in learning always makes me smile!

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