A Mystery

Today’s post comes from billinmpls.

A couple of weeks ago, I noticed the sign you see in the header photo planted on a street corner near my house. A commonplace, innocuous sign, one I might have not noticed at all except for two things:

1. Except for the picture, which looks a little impersonal- like the sort of photo that comes when you buy a picture frame, there’s no information about the dog. Nothing about the breed or his name or the neighborhood he usually calls home.

2. That curious statement, “Do not approach or chase”. Did that mean that the dog was dangerous in some way to approach?

I would likely have forgotten about the sign except that, recently, I saw the same sign in a completely different part of Minneapolis, three or four miles from where I saw the first sign. Usually when a pet is missing, you see a few signs posted  on telephone poles around the neighborhood. They’re not generally as elaborate as the two signs I had seen and they don’t usually blanket the city.

And then, when I was driving in a fairly distant northern exurb—Blaine or Coon Rapids—and I saw almost the same sign. It had a different dog photo and a different phone number, but the same layout and the same exhortation: DO NOT CHASE!

The thought struck me, “What if the signs are not about lost dogs at all?  What if they are some sort of anonymous signal to someone or some group, hiding in plain sight? After all, nobody who doesn’t recognize the sign as a signal is going to call the number if there is, in fact, no lost dog.

I had decided to keep my eyes peeled for more of these “Do Not Chase” signs and to try to discern some sort of pattern in their placement and then tried searching online to see if anyone else had noticed these curious signs. And that’s when I came across an article in a minor paper that purports to explain the mystery. It turns out that there is an organization of volunteers who make it their mission to help people recover lost pets. They call themselves “The Retrievers” and they have established a protocol for how they proceed. One thing they do is to put up signs over a very wide area. Lost dogs sometimes travel surprisingly far from their home, apparently. Another distinctive feature of their protocol is that they always urge informants not to chase the dog if they spot it. Lost dogs are stressed as a rule and in survival mode. Chasing them exacerbates that and can make them harder to find and coax into confinement.

My mystery turned out not to be especially mysterious after all. That is, unless the article in the little local paper was just a red herring to throw us off the trail. But there are other unsolved mysteries around us, mysteries that beg an explanation. Like that business that never seems to have any customers and yet has been there for years. Is it a front for something? What about that house where you’ve never seen anyone come or go? That guy you’re always seeing. Doesn’t he have to be somewhere? What’s he up to?

I was walking the dog one morning and passed by an unremarkable house. A pickup truck was in the driveway of the garage and the hood was open. One of the truck’s doors was open and the radio was on and playing an Ernest Tubb song. The back door of the house opened and an older man came out and walked toward the truck. He had on a seed cap of some sort, baggy jeans, a heavy plaid wool shirt. And red high heels. I thought to myself, “I’ll bet there’s a story there…”

Noticed anything unusual lately?

43 thoughts on “A Mystery”

  1. Rise and Shine Baboons,

    I love these kinds of things. At the State Fair Sunday, it was very crowded due to high attendance, so there were many little things to notice:

    There was a semi stuck by the horse barn that could not move due to all the people and animals. Three female cops and a guy on horseback could not clear the road. When they finally did clear it, the on horseback yelled, “No, stay there. You lost your spot.” The guy driving the semi was ready to scream.

    An art acquaintance who is going to Ireland with our group next month had an art doll in the Fine Art Show.

    The chickens were being moved that day so we could not see them and we were quite disappointed.

    Outside of the State Fair:

    The Southdale Bald Eagle flew off of a light pole near Southdale yesterday in front of our car on my way home from surgery.

    My sunflowers seem to have the same fungus this year that the tomatoes get when there is too much rain.

    I have seen the same Lost Dogs signs that Bill has seen and wondered the same thing.


    1. So far, so good. They removed varicose veins that have been hosting superficial blood clots. I was home 3 hours later, the leg wrapped like a mummy and elevated. I was afraid of the anasthesia part because they use a “conscious” anesthesia, of IV fed Versed and Fentynol –(autocorrect has latched on to this and keeps changing it. Grrr). It was ok but I did feel a few pokes. This procedure used to be a 2 week recovery with hospitalization though, so I understand I got off easy. The wrapping will probably fall off later today because it is slipping downward. The medical people said I should expect bruising. Then I wear compression socks for 2weeks.😬


  2. The cat next door was chewing on a carcass right outside our front door this morning – I could not identify the animal. (Luckily, its owner removed said carcass.) Might have been the bunny I saw yesterday (only the second one I’ve seen all summer) but we will probably never know.


    1. I assumed that if the sign had been something other than what it appeared to be, I wouldn’t have gotten a straight answer and if it was what it purported to be, I wouldn’t have had a dog to report.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Everything I’ve noticed lately is linked to my new home in Michigan. I’ve probably mentioned them here before. Strangers call me “Bud.” The squirrels are black. Clerks here don’t expect to make small talk with customers unless the topic is how to save money, in which case they won’t shut up.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Your comment led me to read about hummingbirds in North Dakota. The articles I read indicated that the most common hummingbird is the ruby throated, which is the single dominant breed in the eastern US. And they don’t get to ND by crossing the Rockies. A few other species are showing up these days. The Pacific NW has a wealth of colorful species that are appearing in new areas now. Hummingbird numbers of all species are seemingly doing well, possibly because people are helping them with feeders and by planting flowers the birds favor.

      My daughter and her family have moved into a new rental home right near Lake Huron (close enough that they sleep each night hearing its surf). She was surprised when she put out bird feeders. She instantly attracted a broad array of lovely birds, including ruby throated hummingbirds.

      Liked by 2 people

        1. With hummingbirds, the gaily colored ones are the fellows. Let’s not call the lady hummingbirds drab and grey! They sit on the eggs and are designed to be inconspicuous when predators call. The boys, who have fewer responsibilities, get to be glamorous.

          Years ago I theorized that male birds either get to look gorgeous or sound great. One way or another, they have to be beautiful to win the hearts of females, and they rarely get to be comely both visually and aurally. The male bird that occupied so much of my attention, the ringneck pheasant, is stunning to see but sounds like a raspy gate hinge. And yet the Maker isn’t always fair: male cardinals are knockouts visually and they sing with bubbly joy.


      1. We have friends with a home on Flathead Lake in Montana, and they have scads of humming birds. I thought the ones we see here were migrating west. It was just a guess on my part. I wonder where our hummer will end up?


  4. Today’s mystery. What does a new-born hamster, wearing a diaper and escaping from the hospital by jumping off the roof and using a blanket as a parachute have to do with Kia automobiles?


      1. OK, now it’s a sad mystery. I looked the ad up online to see what kind of diaper the hamster was wearing and discovered that there is a much longer version than the one I’ve seen on tv. And even with the super-long version, it’s hard to tell but in the elevator scene the diaper looks like cloth.


  5. There’s a book titled The Secrets of Lost Cats: One Woman, Twenty Posters, and a New Understanding of Love. The author called phone numbers from lost pet signs and asked for their stories.

    Those posters make me sad. Do the people find their pets?


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