Having gone to just about every animal pound in the state, I am always saddened by the numbers of stray dogs and cats there, many whom will never find homes and, ultimately, will be euthanized.

And so I am particularly drawn to stray dogs (cats still intimidate me, though my son and daughter-in-law are both cat people and own three strays). I am always looking for homes for the dogs that come through my life, as well the ones advertised on the state treasurer’s Web site under “treasured pets”.

What I can’t understand is that if a dog gets loose, looks obviously well taken care of and groomed, why would someone not try to find them? Granted, there is always the possibility that they were just let loose and abandoned. But, to find a dog in good shape and very socialized would lead one to think that someone out there genuinely loved the dog and was caring for it. It was a member of the family.

I had another case this week of a lost dog for whom no one came. My friend from Forest Park, Nancy Bower, called to let me know that she had found a small, white dog in her back yard, and she wanted to know if I would take him. Having two bowsers already and facing a lot of time on the road, mostly with the other two dogs in tow, three dogs seemed like a bit much. So, I tried to help Nancy find the owner.

I went to see the little pup at Nancy’s Forest Park home, knowing that she had already called the police, who had no calls from anyone seeking the lost dog. He was a cute, little guy, and judging by his teeth, probably about a year or so old. He looked like a West Highland terrier, sometimes referred to as a “white scottie,” like one you would see on the label of Dewar’s Scotch.

There may have been some other terrier in him as he was rather small, about 15 pounds. All I could think of was that if we could not find a home for the pup, I would take him and my “girls”?”both rather chunky?”would knock this poor little guy into next Sunday. He would be no match for them.

Ultimately, Nancy found a home for the dog in Forest Park after walking the neighborhood with him to see if he would take her to his home. After going to a veterinarian to see if he had an identification chip in him (he did not) she called the sister paper of the Landmark, The Forest Park Review, to see if anyone had put an ad in the paper seeking a lost dog.

I had told her not to be too specific in her description of the dog, as she would not want just anyone taking him. Sadly, there are some mean folk in the world who use small dogs as bait in dog fighting, as well as others who sacrifice them to their religion and/or even eat them. It is hard to believe, but it all goes on.

Well, the dog has a home, but it reminds me to remind you that because of the weather, we often let our dogs out to play. We really need to remember that not all dogs, if they stray too far, can find their way home. To that end:

 Make sure that if a dog is not let into a fenced yard, it is taken out on a leash (and most municipalities have ordinances to that effect anyway).

 A dog needs to wear a collar with ID and rabies/licensing tags all the time. If they get lost, these are the first line of defense in retrieving them.

 If at all possible, an identification chip should be put into the dog by a veterinarian. This does not hurt the dog, there is no blood shed and a veterinarian’s number can be traced back to the owner.

 Make sure that fencing is secure, that spaces underneath are not so vast that a dog can shimmy through and that gates are kept closed.

 For the good of everyone, if your dog is not spayed or neutered, get it done. We don’t need yet another litter of puppies in a world which cannot house the ones we already have.

 Call the police to make a record that your dog has wandered, giving a description and the dog’s name and the area in which the dog was lost. Also call Cook County Animal Control to see if the dog has been brought there.

The little Forest Park dog got lucky in that he has a home?”not his original home, but a home nonetheless.

For many others, it will be a short, tough life.