by Anne Wills
Dogs Finding Dogs (DFD), a nonprofit organization that uses search dogs to find lost pets, has just published a new picture book for young children, We Love Lee, by Chrissy Hoffmaster. It is also charmingly illustrated by Mary Booth. The book is about a Treeing Walker Coonhound finding his vocation as a search dog for lost pets. It is based on the (mostly) true story of DFD’s search dog Lee, handled by me, Anna. Proceeds from book sales will go to Dogs Finding Dogs’ “Walker Fund,“ which offsets costs of searches for lost pets for families that can’t afford a donation to DFD. Dogs Finding Dogs is purely donation financed. We request that pet owners send us a donation for our services, but we will not turn down any plea for help because a family cannot afford to.
While some of the details of We Love Lee are a little dressed up for fun, much of it is based on reality. Lee joined our team after he ran away from his foster home in Maryland and camped out in a patch of bamboo behind my local supermarket. I got the call from the rescue about him being missing two years ago on Easter Monday.
My veteran search dog Heidi and I found Lee immediately, but he was very scared. We took our time coaxing him out. For two weeks, we did nothing but visit him with chicken, toys, and blankets. We set out a live trap for him with the blankets and treats inside. Every time we went back to check it, Lee had pulled everything out and made a nest in the bamboo with them. Once, I put a leash on top of the trap while I was putting new bait in it, and left it there while I went back to the car for something else. When I got back--no more than three minutes later--Lee had snitched the leash as well!
It wasn’t easy, that’s for sure. Lee is a big funny hound, always wanting to run, leap, and spin in the air. He loves to have fun! That is mirrored in the book, which, featuring Lee, is fun and a little silly too, although educational as well. While the international travel is fictional, Lee really did have a case finding lost ferrets, as in the book. In the real case, though, there were seven ferrets lost from one house, not just three. He found all seven safe and sound. Lee also tracked down a lost mastiff in real life, and found a calico cat that was hiding under a deck.
Dogs Finding Dogs was formed as a 501c3 in September of 2008. Our motto is “Our Noses Know Where Your Pet Goes!” Its main goal is to help reunite missing pets with their families. By doing this, the pets return home and are saved from the threat of being euthanized as unwanted strays. We are proud of our working dogs, including search dog Lee. For a search and rescue dog to save the life of just one missing pet is a high honor. To save the lives of many is truly a blessing. Lee has already saved many lives.
Altogether, DFD has reunited over 4,000 missing pets with their families in just four years, either by counseling on the phone or by deploying SAR teams, And Lee, our beloved goofy fantastic coonhound, was one of those successful cases before he joined our team.
At the shelter in South Carolina, Lee was tied to an igloo shelter outside on concrete for almost a year before he was pulled and sent up to Maryland to a rescue. When he arrived, he was so covered with pressure sores that he slept standing up. He did not know how to lie down to sleep.
Lee journeyed up to Maryland and was placed in a foster home with a young college student. Not the best idea for a scared unsocialized hound dog. Soon after he got there, Lee bolted out the door and found his way to a huge patch of bamboo in a vacant lot.
Since then, this dog that was thrown away, who slept standing up for over a month at my house, has become a success story. Lee’s story is heartwarming. Lee was given a chance and it turned out well. Of course, Lee had a lot of help from his friends, but he proved himself to be a hero. And he continues to lighten our hearts every day, especially because he has to spin in the air and jump like a kangaroo at least once on every track he is working. Well, this helps to make people smile who are so sad and worried as we are looking for their pets. Lee is truly the “Super Hound Dog to the Rescue!”
You can get a copy of We Love Lee from www.DogsFindingDogs.com.
I have a paypal button on our Website that says “Donate Now.” The book costs $12, plus $6 shipping and handling. Just donate $18 and say you want a copy of We Love Lee.
Or, you can mail a check to Dogs Finding Dogs with a note requesting the book. Our address is:
Dogs Finding Dogs
P.O. Box 18244
Baltimore, MD 21227
However, to be sure to get a copy in time for Christmas, you would need to do that right away, by December 11.
Dogs Finding Dogs also has a Facebook page with some of the pages from the book. You can also reserve a copy there.