Kathy knows that others may not understand the level of friendship she shared with Abner, a 16-year-old Lab mix. But she was surprised to find that friends and even strangers rallied around her search for her lost companion.
On July 3, Abner got spooked by the sound of fireworks and ran away from his Cave Spring yard. At 16 years old, with cataracts and hearing loss, Kathy fears Abner may not be able to find his way back home or may be hurt and unable to return to her.
And for Kathy, who has relied on Abner’s constant companionship for 16 years, there is only a feeling of helplessness and guilt.
“I should have known the fireworks would scare him and I should have made sure he had his collar on,” she said. “But he was just relaxing in the yard like he always has, and I didn’t think he would get so scared that he wouldn’t come back.”
For two weeks Kathy has been searching frantically for Abner in Cave Spring and the surrounding areas. She has put up flyers throughout the county and has visited veterinary clinics, pet stores and animal shelters in Floyd and Polk counties. And just when she had exhausted every avenue she could think of, a Rome pharmacy tech stepped in to lend a hand.
Courtney Shell, an animal lover herself, is a pharmacy tech with CVS in Rome. She heard about Kathy’s search for Abner and began using the Internet to reach an audience Kathy never could.
“I got an alert from The Backyard (Pet Boutique) about a missing dog,” Shell said. “I love dogs and I would want someone to help me if my dog went missing so I called her up and she was understandably very distraught. She doesn’t have a Facebook page so I decided to create a Facebook post about Abner.”
Shell used social networking site Facebook to post a photo and information about Abner. It began making its rounds on the Facebook network and soon, hundreds of people were viewing and sharing the post, spreading the word and trying to find Abner and bring him home.
Shell said there are numerous web sites including Craig’s List and Facebook where posts about lost animals can reach hundreds and even thousands of people in just a few hours. She said there is even a Facebook page called “Georgia Humane Society’s Lost and Found Pets” where Georgia residents can post about missing pets. She also recommended posting to animal rescue pages and your county’s animal control sites.
And even though she didn’t know Kathy before learning about Abner, Shell is just as anxious to know that Abner is found safe and returned home.
“Bringing Abner home is huge,” she said. “I hope people can understand how important an animal can be to someone. Sometimes it’s not just a pet. It’s a friend.”
But even with all the help from strangers and friends and even with all the calls made and flyers distributed, Kathy has still had no luck finding Abner, who 16 years ago wandered up to Kathy’s workplace injured and scared.
“He knew who to come to,” she said. “I took care of him then and he’s been taking care of me ever since. He’s become known in Cave Spring for always being with me. I’ve been fortunate to have jobs where I could take him to work. He is a friend to me, in every sense of the word. He is a companion and a listener and a joy to be around. He is one of the biggest parts of my life.”
And although Kathy’s search continues for Abner, she knows there is a chance he may not return.
“I’m not unrealistic,” she said, tears coming freely to her eyes. “He’s an old man. He may have just gone off somewhere by himself to spare me the grief of watching him pass away. But I still have hope that he’s out there and just can’t find his way home. That’s why I’m looking.
“But no matter what, I’ll always remember that the response in the last few days has been over-whelming,” she added. “People who have known Abner for years keep calling for any updates. And even strangers have been extremely helpful and sincere in their concern.”