2010-10-27 / Columnists

Pets, Pets, Pets

Thanks to a registered microchip, “Marshmallow” is back in his Deer Park home after being lost for two and a half years. The tiny Maltese’s happy ending is sweet, while the middle of the mystery remains mushy, similar to his squishy white namesake. Where has Marshmallow been for 18 months; and why didn’t the person who found him, try to locate his rightful owner who had never given up the search? It seems the dog was nearby, for most, if not all of this time.

Back in April, 2008, Rob Angelo picked up his then four-year-old Maltese at the grooming shop - clean and collarless, left him at home with his Mom and returned to work. As is often the case, the landscapers left the gate open, and Marshmallow vanished. Thus began Rob’s desperate search. He hung up flyers showing the six pound fluffball on his sliding glass door, visited Babylon, Islip and Huntington shelters and followed up on every lead.

Marshmallow - the microchip miracle. Marshmallow - the microchip miracle. I don’t recall the Marshmallow poster, but since Rob posted his plight online, my pals at Team Vivi, especially Phyllis Taiano, were in touch with Rob from the get go, dispatching him far and wide whenever a “found” Maltese surfaced somewhere. They sent Rob on hopeful trips to Brooklyn (twice), Brentwood and Mastic to meet dogs that fit Marshmallow’s description. Each time Rob came home disappointed.

Rob even explored a lead of a guy selling a dog that looked a lot like Marshmallow. He called Phyllis from his car to say: “I had to pretend I didn’t like the little guy. It wasn’t Marshmallow but it sure looked a lot like him.” It was plausible that someone local was holding onto his adorable pet. Since Marshmallow was so tiny, Rob might not see the dog being walked, so he listened for his distinct bark in the neighborhood. He knew that Marshmallow was deathly afraid of firecrackers, so around July 4th, he drove around lighting a few- a tactic he had to explain to a policeman who thankfully was sympathetic about his lost dog.

I know about the joyful reunion only because of an appreciative email to Phyllis forwarded on Oct. 19: “MARSHMALLOW IS HOME AFTER 3 YEARS” which explained that Rob got a call from Deer Park Animal Hospital after a woman brought “his boy” in, stating she had found him on a street (south of Rob’s and on the opposite side of Deer Park Avenue). Supposedly she knocked on doors first. A vet tech scanned him and when Rob’s info came up, she called his house. He rushed right over. “I am still in shock that he is home again and my daughter has been crying for 2 hours, she is so happy. Marshmallow is home again and seems healthy and happy. I can never thank you enough for all your help and inspiration…”

Thedog was happy to see him. Rob never lost hope. Marshmallow’s bed and toys were still in place. As Rob describes: “He seems to be healthy, just has a bald spot by his tail. I’m taking him to the vet for a check up. He does remember me and my daughter, he answers to his name also. I never put any of his things away so when I brought him home he ran straight for his bed. Whoever had him took care of him; he is well groomed and gained at least 5 pounds. Over the years I periodically stopped in to the local vets and shelters so the workers knew me and when I walked in to pick up my boy the entire officewas in tears.”

Was someone else looking for him now? When I checked Babylon Shelter records to see if anyone reported a lost or found Maltese that day, something peculiar popped up. On Oct. 2, about two weeks before the recovery, someone called about finding a male Maltese on the same street. TheDeer Park hospital vet tech told me that the lady who brought him in on Oct. 19 was on her way somewhere with her kids and that her dogs would not have accepted him, so she does not sound like the caller to the shelter (who, by the way, has not responded to a follow-up call). Was he with someone over two years and then lost twice on the same street in the last few weeks? Thisseems so odd.

In addition to the reunion, there are at least two reminders in Marshmallow’s miracle. First, finding a dog doesn’t give you the right to keep it. Would you keep a found child? There is a constant problem on LI of misguided do-gooders refusing to surrender found dogs to the town shelter, the facility designed to give owners the best shot at reclaiming a lost dog. Fearmongers bellow that shelters will KILL the dog which is ludicrous. If the finder wants to protect or legally adopt the dog, put on the first shelter hold. Just a Craig’s List post doesn’t cut it. Presently, the “self-righteous” are withholding information on Craig’s List, even breed, as if reclaiming your dog must be a Rumpelstiltskin guessing game. Marshmallow never surfaced in the shelter because his chip would have been picked up there. If the person who found Marshmallow in April 2008 had done the right thing, the Angelo family’s prolonged heartbreak would have been avoided.

Final message: the microchip did its job. Marshmallow has an AVID chip that Rob registered when he purchased his puppy in 2004. “Registered” is the operative word. This step costs about $20. You do it once, and the chip lasts longer than the expected lifespan of your dog. So many of the chips detected in shelter dogs are unregistered and dead end. Keep your contact info current. Marshmallow is home because Rob took the time to register his microchip.

For Adoption at Babylon Town Shelter (631-643- 9270): “Miss Kitty” #20369 is a sweet tuxedo in the white lobby cage. She is getting ready for Halloween. “Pumpkin” #93660 is a female Border Terrier mix pup found in E. Farmingdale very sweet but timid. The camera made her flinch.

Male: “Jake” #93649- a Boggle( Boston Terrier/Beagle mix); Clumber Spaniel mix #93531; “Blue” #93487-mellow Retriever mix; “Snuggle” in C-10- declawed cat.

Female: Chihuahua #93652; “Brownie, Jinni, Asia, Lydia” from the playful Pit collection.

Call for More Shelter Volunteers…. Babylon Shelter is seeking more dedicated volunteers to exercise the dogs and socialize the cats. Please contact Chris Elton at the shelter number or me at the paper and we will get you in touch with Dr. Barbara Pezzanite, the volunteer program coordinator.

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