The Problem with Dandelions


One of our long-time volunteers has coined a clever name for some of our missing dogs.  She affectionately calls them  “dandelions” because they are common and they all look alike.

The problem with dandelions is that they can present a real challenge to their owner when they get lost. Here is the list of most common dog breeds in America according to the American Kennel Club:

  1. Labrador Retriever
  2. German Shepherd Dog
  3. Beagle
  4. Golden Retriever
  5. Yorkshire Terrier
  6. Bulldog
  7. Boxer
  8. Poodles
  9. Dachshund
  10. Rottweiler
  11. Shih Tzu
  12. Miniature Schnauzer
  13. Doberman Pinscher
  14. Chihuahua
  15. German Shorthaired Pointer

So if your dog is mentioned above and he has no distinguishing coat color or markings – you have a dandelion. If he is also a friendly dog and fits our profile of the Happy Wanderer, you really have your work cut out for you.


For instance: consider the Labrador Retriever. They are the most popular breed in America. Many people own them or want them. They look alike, especially to the average person who may not see slight differences in coat color or small markings. They are often friendly and may travel a long distance. If they are lost in a rural area they are often assumed to be wandering farm dogs and sighting calls may be few and far between. This puts them at a very high risk of being picked up and kept, rehomed or ending up at a shelter and adopted out to a new family before the owners can find him.

The most important thing you can do is file a lost dog report in the searchable, nation-wide database, Pet FBI.  Our state volunteers receive these reports and post them to the appropriate state Facebook pages. Because Pet FBI is internet-based it keeps your dog’s information available for the public to see and search no matter how long he has been missing or how far he has travelled.  Listings posted to local Facebook groups only, will slip down the page and soon be forgotten.

If your lost dog is a friendly “dandelion” consider these extra steps to help you get him back home safely. Give out details about your dog. (Sometimes we advise against this. But in the case of dandelions you have to carefully weigh the risks. Is there a better chance that somebody might see and recognize your dog or that somebody may falsely try to reclaim your dog?) Is he or she spayed or neutered? What is his age? What was the color of the collar he  was wearing? Does he have any birthmarks or scars? You will need to make it EASY for the shelter staff and public to help you.

Contact and keep contacting shelters, stray holding facilities, and vet clinics in a hundred mile radius. Your dog might have been picked up and taken to a shelter far away. Get the public emotionally involved in the story of your missing dog. Make your dandelion stand out from the other dandelions in the minds of the public, vet staff, shelter staff and volunteers, animal control officers and police officers.

Flyer, flyer and flyer some more. Use intersection signs strategically placed to catch the eye of passing motorists. Increase your range of flyers and signs by five miles a day.  Whether a lost dog is still simply lost and confused or has been picked up – the key to getting them safely back home is to generate sightings.

Never give up! Your “dandelion” is out there somewhere depending on you to bring him safely home.