Over the weekend my fiancée, Katie, and I lost our dog, Bear. To be more specific, we lost him at 2 p.m. on Christmas Day at my Grandpa’s farm. The farm is in southern Indiana where you can see for miles and miles over flat farmland, with the occasional small woods. You have to squint to see your nearest neighbor. God’s country. I guess “lost” might be the wrong term. We looked outside and saw Bear about an acre away, running into a freshly plowed and muddy field, dragging behind him the 10-foot chain we had him tied up with in the yard. Oh boy.
The Power of Social Media
My family is close, but out there you’ll find someone doesn’t even have to be part of the family to want to help out someone in need. So when Bear took off, it was all hands on deck. After about an hour, we had four cars driving around looking for him, people waiting back at the house in case he came back and making phone calls, people walking up to houses telling everyone what Bear looked like and who to call if they saw him, people walking the railroad tracks and fence lines and a four-wheeler scanning the woods and fence lines in case the chain was hung up. It went completely dark out at 6 p.m. (seriously?) and out there, when the sun goes down, it is pitch black. Everyone kept at it for another hour and with no sign of Bear for a couple hours, went to eat dinner and take a shower. We had all been through woods, muddy fields and barns and were exhausted and smelly. After a quick bite, I checked my phone before heading back out with my uncle and brother to drive around looking for a few more hours. There were already Facebook posts from family and friends on their own profiles asking everyone in the area to look for this dog. Some already had well-wishes and promises to keep an eye out for him. One even had a Bear sighting, letting us know when and where they saw him. The power of social media.
The Power of Good People
The next morning (yes, the damn dog was out all night, hamming it up with coyotes, cattle, deer and probably the occasional fox) we received a phone call – a land-line-to-land-line phone call (pretty cool, right?). It was from my cousin who received a call from his brother (who knew about Bear missing because he lent me his four-wheeler and gloves to use for as long as I needed) the night before telling him to keep an eye out. He heard a dog messing with his dog that morning so he looked outside and saw a medium-sized dog running into the fog just down the road from my Grandpa’s. So, the posse loaded up in two separate cars and sped out of the driveway hot on the trail (unbeknownst to us at the time, our cousin and uncle were both heading over with their four-wheelers already loaded up and had four more calls with people wanting to come over to help). As I pulled up, Katie and my Dad were stopped, with Bear in Katie’s arms, stinky and dirty as ever, without a scratch on him and yes, still pulling the 10-foot chain. The power of good people.
So, What Once Was Lost, Is Now Found…
For me, what was found was not just Bear, but the importance of keeping and maintaining relationships. I’m talking about using our old school communications, in tandem with the computers and smart phones we wake up to and close minutes before we go to bed. I don’t think it was Facebook that found Bear. I don’t think it was a chance sighting followed by a phone call at 7 a.m. on December 26th that found him either. I think it was the combination of a hell of a good group of people doing everything they could to help out a family member, friend or stranger in need. A group of people, young, old, tech-savvy, not so tech-savvy, who have stayed in touch many different ways, but who have kept up relationships in a way that made them stay important to them. I am convinced that damn near everyone within a four-mile radius knew we were looking for Bear and what he looked like and how to get in touch if they saw him. Something that couldn’t have been done with just the use of email, or Facebook or calling neighbors. It was the combination of all of them.
Communication is a wonderful thing, but in today’s world, you have to be careful not to limit yourself to one type. Friends, allies, business colleagues, significant others, etc. will all require different types of communication. I’ll tell you this much, my Grandpa has never even seen Facebook and rarely have I seen him pick up a cell phone, but his relationships and communication with the people in our family and town helped us find that dog. All of the Facebook posts, phone calls, texts and people who stopped by all played a part in finding Bear. Whether it was keeping hope that we would find him, informing us they spotted him in a certain area at a certain time or just letting us know they would keep any eye out, it all helped us find Bear.
So, my personal challenge is to make time for a phone call to a friend instead of the much easier Facebook message. Or, to drive out to see that family member instead of sending an email. Or, make the time to set up that family member on Facebook that I have been selfishly putting off.
Or just tie up the dog better. Just kidding, but that would have helped.
The Power of Fear
Yes, my family is awesome and would do anything for me, but I’m pretty sure a small portion of the reason so many people were looking so hard was that they didn’t want me to screw this engagement up. They were all so happy a wonderful girl like Katie would say yes, they wanted to prevent any reason for her to be upset. The power of fear.
Bear update: He had to have a foot bandaged and a cone put on so he didn’t mess with it. You party hard, you pay the consequences.