Real. Great. Ending.
A man’s best friend, Argyle, is lost. A Website and twitter account are created; 2,500 “Find Argyle” business cards, 200 flyers, four 24×36 posters are printed, and facebook status is put to work. The word goes viral. Argyle is found. … This is the story.
I will fast-forward to the intense final 26 hours. Argyle went missing Sunday, August 21 around 9 p.m. On Wednesday morning at approximately 6:55 a.m., I received a call from Rachel Orillion – I shall call her Awesome – who had received one of the 2,000 “findargyle.com” cards that were placed on car doors Tuesday night at large apartment complexes nearby his last-seen location. More bang for your buck because so many cars are in one area, right? I coined the endeavor “Cargyling – one driver side door at a time.” Awesome had spotted Argyle bounding behind the archery bails near Highland Road Observatory Park. She said that he disappeared in the woods going toward the observatory dome.
I left the house faster than I ever have in my life – I kid you not. I did not even go to the bathroom (remember this lil’ nugget-o-info for later), and it was way faster than those oh-shit-I-overslept moments. Mom followed quickly. On my way, I called Gabby, and she and Walker sped over at a Dale Jr. rate! **Insert tire screeching noises here**
I parked in Highland Park’s lower lot near the archery bails and softball fields and began to search. I followed the Amazonian-thick tree line up the hill and headed toward the dome (not the who dat one:)). I peered through the tree line as I called Argyle’s name in the most endearing way possible. You know what I am talking about, the way you talk to your pet when no one else is around because if anyone heard you they would look at you like you should have been in the movie “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.”
I arrived at the top of the hill at the same time my mom pulled into the upper lot near the observatory dome. I saw her jump out the car and stare at the tree line. I followed her stare and saw Argyle turn back into the woods. I sprinted and began calling for him. He did not come.
People began to converge at Highland Park – Gabby, Walker, friends, Petz Plaza owner and employees, Argyle’s trainer Denise Landin, and total strangers that had heard about the search on facebook and twitter (fb and twitter are insane). An intense Argyle hunt ensued. No luck! It was so frustrating! Why would he not come to me when I called him?! I know he heard me! Apparently, he was traumatized – scared the past few days and nights by cars, humans, unfamiliar sights and sounds. He was in survival mode.
Everyone was dripping with sweat, shoes soaked from the dew. A fruitless three hours passed.
We began to refocus on getting the word out that he was in that area to as many people as possible. Highland Road Park area is a relatively safe area for him to be. So, we wanted him to come back to the area and stay. Gabby brought Argyle’s best dog friend, Louie, out there so he would leave his familiar scent. We placed out Argyle’s bones, food, water,sleeping mat, and my bed sheet in the park, and ripped his bedding into pieces and placed it along the tree line. I had not gone to the bathroom yet, remember? So I did. … In the woods. Don’t judge.
During the heat of the day, one or two people were constantly walking the tree line and surrounding wooded areas. And by people, I mean total strangers, people
I hadn’t seen in years, people doing slow drive-bys. Insane! I was truly humbled and encouraged and blessed. Tyler from Petz Plaza even got into a one-man kayak and went up and down the stream for a solid 2 hours. Wow!!
With drive time, the setting sun, and cooler temps approaching, the search ramped up. At high-traffic street corners, my mom and aunt stood with large, poster-sized
missing dog signs. A search crew began to scour the wooded area, and more friends and volunteers passed out what was left of the 2,500 cards and 200 flyers in outlying neighborhoods, businesses and parks. I was certain a large area was being canvassed. Argyle was going to be spotted with so many people searching, right? While on my walk, I would break sticks into smaller pieces and wipe my sweat on them and drop them. Thanks Hansel. Thanks Gretel. Great idea!
The ramped-up search lasted until dark. But again … fruitless. We were frustrated and I was approaching my wit’s end.
I contemplated camping out at the park overnight. But I was mentally drained and had not been sleeping much. I decided to trust in the efforts of the day, stay faithful and pray that God keep Argyle safe and that he would be spotted again in that area. Then, I went to get some rest.
The A/C at the house felt so good. My aunt cooked some comfort food for my mom, my sister, and me – fresh, out-the-oven Pillsbury chocolate chip cookies. I showered and wallowed on the couch and tried to escape the situation by reading up on the Jordan Jefferson silliness. I immediately rushed to Shady’s Bar and posted flyers; that place has got to be gettin’ some traffic! Just kidding, I went to bed, while my mom and aunt went to the park until about 11 p.m. Another day is knocking. …
Around 6:40 Thursday morning, my mom headed out to the observatory parking lot to look. Around 7 I got a call from her. … Argyle was there again!!! My heart leapt, as well as my body into my clothes and shoes. I sped away in my car. Hazards on. Brights flashing. Horn honking. Status updating. Tweeting. Calling Gabby.
I joined my mom at park; she was sitting under the pavilion – listening and watching for him. I patrolled the tree line, beckoning for Argyle in my endearing way. I heard nothing. I saw nothing. I telephoned mom and asked her to search the tree line near the fire pit behind the observatory dome. I entered the woods at a trailhead behind the archery bails with a stick in hand to move the MASSIVE banana spider webs out the way. (The annoying No Doubt song kept popping into my brain – I’m walkin’ into a spider web; Leave a message and I’ll call you back …) Thirty feet into the woods a snake hissed about five feet to my left. I jumped. (Glad I didn’t go to bathroom in that spot!) I pushed further into the woods. I traveled the stomach of the woods hoping to see Argyle - I did not.
I exited the woods after about an hour. I went to Walker who was at a panoramic-view vantage point of the tree line and was holding Louie. I took Argyle’s best dog friend with me and approached my mom who was sitting Indian-style near the tree line and listening. She said she heard a dog bark near Gabby, who is further down to the left. Louie and I walked to Gabby who had brought a large, roasted chicken from Wal-Mart with her. WTF? She must have had that in the fridge. … Picture that moment – Gabby sprinting out the house, then suddenly stoppin’ and thinking to herself, “WAIT, LET ME BRING SOME CHICKEN!” Anyway, thanks Wal-Mart!
Gabby said she had been hearing loud rustling sounds, and the treats she and Liz Eastin placed out at 20-feet intervals were gone. We were cautiously hopeful.
We moved down a little. I called. We listened. Chirping birds … We moved down a little. I called. We listened. Chirping birds … Repeat …
I looked back behind me and saw a large white streak go by. Had to be Argyle!! Gabby, Louie and I scurried over in a manner that must have looked funny as we were trying to
sprint, but sprint in a way that would not startle Argyle. It felt like I was doing some sort of fast-paced mash-up of a chicken-walk and walking-like-an-Egyptian dance move.
We finally got to the spot where I saw the white streak. No Argyle!
We looked frantically. Where could he have gone so quickly?! Walker sprinted about 10 feet toward the tree line. Stopped. Put his hands up like he was at gun point. And yelled Argyle. Suddenly Argyle came sprinting along the tree line. His face was one of confusion. I called but he did not come.
He was trying to run away from us and back into the woods, but the tree line was too thick. Remembering Denise Landin’s advice that Argyle would, at this point, be traumatized and scared of humans and would be more likely to approach a dog, I released Louie from the leash, and Louie sprinted toward him, and Argyle approached Louie!! You could see Argyle relax just a tad. Gabby and I converged on the two friends. Gabby got there first and grabbed Argyle’s argyle-patterned collar. HE’S HOME. A massive cuddle puddle ensued on the dew-drenched grass. Tears. Hugs. Complete joy. It had to be the most beautiful moment I have ever experienced. Most of you have seen the pic which speaks a thousand words. I wish it was on video – that would speak a million. What a blessed adventure. Thank you to God and so many people!
Upon reflection, life lessons have been further reinforced and new lessons have been learned. Always strive to be nice to people. Reach out. Engage people. Smile. Make them laugh. Don’t underestimate the kindness of strangers. Be genuine and authentic (is that the same thing?). I am Far FAr FAR from perfect, but I feel I have always tried (and failed at times) to be nice, genuine and to not burn a bridge – perhaps that helped here.
I know there is an Oprah Effect, well, in Baton Rouge, there is a Gabby “Brew Ha-Ha” Loubiere Effect. Her network of relationships is vast and far-reaching. This intense search does not happen without her and her beau Walker Higgins.
I have never worked so hard at anything in my life. I slept very little, annoyed the shit out of people on facebook and twitter. Scoured the HotZones and asked strangers if they had seen him. When I had him in my arms, it was all worth it. I wish I could describe it. It has to be similar to winning a Super Bowl or something. What’s Drew’s phone#? I will call, we share notes.
Thanks for reading.
With the deepest thanks and a happy heart,
Argyle and C. Micajah Burke
(If you like the story please copy and paste link and “tail” your friends via fb, twitter and the good ol’ fashion e-mail.)
The support and display of love was overwhelming that I felt inclined to do something to give back. I have decided to donate two tickets to the Saints vs. Falcons Monday Night Football game on December 26 to the LA/SPCA. The tickets are lower bowl, 20-yard line, 24 rows up ($380 value). The LA/SPCA will use them to raise funds at The Bulldog’s “New Orleans on Tap” Beer Festival. If you would like to purchase a $5 raffle ticket for a chance to win these tickets, go to WWW.LA-SPCA.ORG/FINDARGYLE Remember that all proceeds go to the LA SPCA!! (Sorry, as of Oct. 16 2011, the raffle is over.)
Also, there have been many ideas in how findargyle.com can be used — perhaps as a centralized, one-stop shop for finding your dog; perhaps a platform in which to increase awareness of pet foster families and pet adoption. … Please follow us on twitter @findargyle or on facebook/findargyle.com for news and updates. In the coming months we hope to harness the energy that the search for Argyle has created into something greater. And if you have any ideas on what you think the next step could be or would like to potentially get involved, email me at email@example.com
Other lil’ nuggets of info:
-Escaped Sunday, August 21 around 9 p.m. – Found Thursday, August 25 around 8:15 a.m.
-He is micro-chipped and his collar and tags were still on him when found.
-The animal shelter is hands down one of the saddest places I have ever been. If you want a dog or cat, rescue one.
-Argyle sightings according to witnesses and based on times given of sightings, these are in order as best I can: Barkley St. off of Perkins, Walgreens on Siegen@Perkins, Winn-Dixie on Siegen, Sunrise Asst Living on Siegen, Fresh Market – Perkins Rowe, BR General across from mall. South Side Produce area, Hyacinth@Starring, The street off Highland that runs into Highland Road Park’s tennis courts, Observatory Park. That is A LOT of ground in that time frame. It is a MIRACLE he was not hit – insanely busy roads in that area. Thank for your prayers!
-Argyle was a rescue from the Animal Shelter in Luling, La. According to the shelter, the lady who brought him in bred Great Pyrenees and the female got away and was impregnated by some other breed – Argyle is one of the two puppies from that doggy rendezvous.
-Argyle was born in November 2009. I have had him since December 2009.
-Were reports of him being protected on Perkins Rd. by people who would turn on hazards and follow him till he got out of road. Again, people can be amazing!
-He was a gift to me from my good friend Gabby. I wanted a dog for a while but would always talk myself out of it. Thank you, Gabby.
-I love argyle-patterned socks. Thusfor thusly and henceforthness, I named him Argyle. He always practices safe “socks.”
-I actually went to the bathroom twice in the woods on Wednesday. Now you can judge. Gabby called it doo-doo diligence. Argyle said I just gave two shits that he was missing.
-Awesome was on her way out of town to Oklahoma when she spotted Argyle and made the call.
-I took shoe polish and wrote “findargyle.com” on the back of my car. I noticed I misspelled it AFTER I found him! I wrote findargle.com
-He escaped from my aunt’s house. A place he frequents because we go swimming there. She has a good fence, but I left him there for 3.5 hours b/c I took my employees to dinner at Sammy’s on Highland. Obviously, he did not like me leaving him there for that long.
-Argyle has gotten out before. I live near downtown and he always came back. He knows the area I guess.
-His being lost in a very high car traffic and unfamiliar territory was a huge reason for the fervent search.
-Printed 200 8.5×11 inch flyers. 2,500 business cards, four 24×36 posters for street-corner campaigning. Thank you Downtown Duplicating and UPS Store on Gov’t. They did that on the super-duper fly!!
-Street corners that were campaigned during morning and evening drive time were the following: Perkins@Siegen; Perkins@Bluebonnet; Perkins@Essen; Highland@Starring; Burbank@Gardere; Perkins@Highland (CCLA area).
-225.308.9517 was a free number I got from google voice and had all calls forwarded to my phone. I have never been so excited to get a call from unknown numbers.
-Rachel ”Awesome” Orillion did not want the $500 reward, but I insisted and eventually got her to accept half with the other half being donated in honor of her and Argyle to LA SPCA and BR’s Pit Crew.
-This was not a green friendly search. Maybe I should have asked Prius to donate cars. – numerous reports of complete strangers driving around.
-Gabby’s gas gauge is broken, so she has to pay close attention to miles traveled. She traveled 487 during the days Argyle was missing
-I could not FATHOM missing a child. … I mean really Casey Anthony???
-Coffee trumps all other energy drinks.
-Best pun during all this: I want his pawtograph. – Anna Boren
-Findargyle.com went live at approx. noon on Tue., Aug 2, and as of 2 a.m. Sat morning it had gotten 1747 unique visitor and 2174 visits. According to geoIP locations, it got hits in US, Canada, Germany, China, Greece, GB, France, Estonia, Japan. Over 1,000 page referrals from facebook.
-Thinking of getting Argyle a friend from the shelter and naming her or him Khaki or Plaid.
Special thanks to:
Nick Woolley at www.backcountrypost.com who put the basic website together in epic time
Rachel “Awesome” Orillion
My amazing employees who covered my shifts at The Pretzel Twister – Mall of La.
Kelly Moss Miller
Aaron at the UPS Store on Gov’t
Trevor from Petz Plaza
Strangers who took time out of their day to look and for the ones who pulled over to give information
Everyone who posted, reposted and retweeted (retweeted. Strange word. Whodathunk?).