This morning as I walked in the door with a sprig of fresh mint for my morning tea, I heard the phone stop ringing. Now ordinarily I don’t get too excited about that. It’s never for me. On the other end is invariably a machine that makes a bunch of undecipherable clicking sounds, or a recording telling me to vaccinate my nonexistent children, or someone trying to reach the remote access number for a local bank, or someone asking for the Haddad family (they all left the neighborhood some years ago–they seem to do that as soon as they make some money), or an irate person asking for Roger, whose financial situation is apparently even more dire than my own.
The caller ID said findtoto.com was trying to reach me. That’s a new one. A URL was calling me. As it turns out, Find Toto is a database for missing pets. Someone in my area had lost a pet and they were autodialing everyone in the neighborhood. Suppressing my irritation at being called by someone I had no business relationship with, I noticed the organization does offer the ability to opt out of their calling base. And below it pictures of adorable little pets who had been reunited with their owners as little as two days after signing up with their service. I melted. You see, there was that time back in I think maybe 1976 when I put an ad in the local paper and got my pet back after a week.
Scrolling through the lost pet listing for my state, I tried to figure out which pet they were calling me about. Was it Rocky, lost 5 days ago? Or maybe Calvin in Villa Park, lost three days earlier? My neighborhood is quite isolated, and everyone has the same telephone prefix. I didn’t see a phone prefix I recognize. But of course they could be cellphone numbers. And where IS Villa Park, anyway? No, wait, a little red message next to Calvin’s picture says he is found. I had to look at the whole list again.
On the whole, this is a pretty good idea. Years ago I paid $10 for my lost pet ad in the classified section of a large city newspaper, but the cheapest package here is $85. For that, they will make 500 phone calls. They don’t say what percentage of pets are found, but if the testimonials and photographs are any indication, they are having at least some successes.
UPDATE: posters in the neighborhood a few days later confirmed that it was indeed Rrocky. Unfortunately Rocky has not yet been found, and there are now two more animals named Rocky also lost. If I ever have another dog, remind me to name it Bullwinkle.