A week ago last Thursday, or someday thereabouts (time has been moving oddly lately, rushing past in great swathes, or forming itself into dollops, expanding the minutes and contracting the hours as they fall past my gaze, or else slowing down all together to a pace where I feel I can see the motes of life itself move slowly past, before falling down a wormhole and leaving me stunned, flummoxed, and usually later than I wanted to be), I saw a sign.

It was a sheet of paper, printed out from someone’s computer, and stuck up on a lamp-post. Might have had a photo at one point…also might not have.

Not an uncommon sight around here, that kind of sign. The more determined ones are also encased in plastic poly-wallets to protect them from the weather, as if their longevity might have some bearing on the outcome. They’re there, purposefully at head height, proclaiming (usually with a bad photo) “LOST!”, with a description of a much-loved family pet gone missing, and all the weight of hope that somewhere, someone knows something of the creature.

I always feel sad about those signs, and the sorrowing hope of the unknown person who stuck it up in a meither of grief and wondering, their only thread of possibility that some local will get in touch via the address or the mobile phone number or the landline number or the email or please, any way possible, to let them know their beloved creature has been located.

I’ve seen SO many for cats. Fewer for dogs, and about the same number for birds.

Mum and I once saw a tortoise…not a sign for a lost one, but an actual in-fact tortoise walking determinedly down the street, heading for the main road. Mum pulled the car over and I scooped up the (hissing, thwarted) hefty reptile, and we took it back to her house, and put it in a spacious box in the garden before contacting a local animal charity to report it discovered. I forget the precise chain of links which was made before the owners were located, but the tortoise was summarily returned and its garden secured.

A friend of mine once turned up on my doorstep at the crack of dawn, in a frenzy – she’d walked out of her front door and on the far side of her car, unseen the night before, in the dark, was a very, extremely dead cat. She needed my help to move it. Dispose of it? What do you do with a very dead cat? It hadn’t been there the morning before, so she surmised it must have been hit by a car at some point in the day and dragged itself to the relative safety of her driveway before expiring anyway.

I dressed and bundled myself into her car, listening to the animated, horror-tinged recollections of her and her teenage daughter, and how neither of them had the stomach to deal with the animal, but they knew me and knew I’d be able to handle it. I agreed, I would be able to handle it…but also, HOW would I handle it? I crossed my fingers and hoped for a collar, so that there wouldn’t be a cat-bereft family hanging signs on lamp-posts for the time it took for them to acknowledge the inevitable, unenviable truth – no cat would be coming back.

Holding my breath in the buzzing, with a hand clothed in a bin-bag, I explored the remains. There was no collar.

Sadly, I bundled the cat and bits-of-cat, and as much of the attendant insect life as I could, into a bin-bag. And then into another. And then into a third, as a concession to whichever bin-men would encounter the shrouded creature on bin-day. A deathly pass-the-parcel with nothing good in the middle, and sadness in every layer. I laid it gently in the bin and closed the lid. The smell of daytime and the sun’s light began to filter into my notice again.

An ignominious ending for (presumably) a well loved pet. Perhaps it had been micro-chipped, but there was no way I was searching for that!

I still think about the cat, and the family, whoever they were. I hope they’re okay now.

Back to the sign.

The one I saw – the one I told you about at the beginning, when I started writing this and felt I had a point…

The sign had faded with the weather – no protective plastic coating for this missive – and I wondered if the putter-upper would try again, with a new sign, because frankly, this one looked like a mess. All the details had been washed away, weathered into indecipherable smudges against bleached and tatty white. Struck me as sad, because the pet had clearly been missing for a long time, and I hoped perhaps it was all discovered and back home by now, and the sign being still there was just an oversight.

Then I looked again.

There, across the middle of the sign, still legible (just), was one giant, exultant word: FOUND!


Someone, somewhere, had taken something in – an animal in the wrong place, unexpected, out of bounds and clearly LOST – and this wonderful, amazing person had embraced the whatever-it-was, made provision for it, and hit upon a wonderful idea to get it back to the sorrowing owner, still clutching faint threads of hope that their beloved would somehow be returned to them. They’d make signs and hang them on lamp-posts, and the owner would read the details, heartbeat racing as they recognised their pet, and they’d be in touch, and the stars would sing with joy as the links in the chain were made with kindness and good intentions and eventually they’d hold their absent beloved in their arms again.

Signs, like the sign I saw.

Signs which originally might have detailed when, and where, and how to find out and from whom, what creature had been FOUND, rescued, delivered from certain death on the streets, and saved…only for the sign to disintegrate, and alongside it the chance of restoration.

The weight of all those unmet hopes damn well nearly crushed me.


34 thoughts on “Found

  1. I feel the same emotions when I see those signs – and keep an even more careful watch on my own little fur-face (who is microchipped, btw).

    To me, there is no such thing as “just an animal” – unless we are speaking dismissively of the animals who are cruel to innocent animals.

    What a heartfelt – and much appreciated – post. Cruelty of ANY sort must be called out – and kindness acknowledged. Our raised voices are our most effective weapons in a “war” to create a kinder, gentler world for every single creature on the planet.
    (Madelyn Griffith-Haynie – ADDandSoMuchMore dot com)
    – ADD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching co-founder –
    “It takes a village to transform a world!”

    Liked by 1 person

  2. These days, there is a local Facebook Page that shares local breaking news in my county. I think an older fellow or fellows who sit, listening to a police scanner all day, make the posts. At any rate, it’s become a bit of a lost and found site for pets and people as well. It’s always heart warming to see when pet and owner are reconnected.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Now that’s a REALLY good idea! I’ve heard of neighbourhood facebook sites happening in the US, and I think it’s brilliant (for some things). I guess we’re going to be a while catching on, over here!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. CityClean (Brighton) used to pick up dead pets and store them in a special freezer. If nobody claimed them after a month, they would be disposed of. I don’t know if our local council has a similar system, but it might be worth giving them a call another time.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Aw. I love FOUND. I’d like to see more of those signs. Also a turtle, returned to its owners? How amazing is that? And I had to skip over some of the cat bits parts sorry but well not sorry and trying to not wonder whether it had the collar or not but OMG DONT WANT TO WONDER. Also FOUND.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Tortoise. Turtles are sea creatures 😉

      And FOUND would be lovely, as long as I knew the signs weren’t just wasted and wondered whether the ‘found’ animal was ever reunited with whoever lost it.

      No collar on the cat. Really really none.


    • Tortoise (turtles go in the sea). :p

      Apparently what had happened was the people who owned him had not been very circumspect in their placement of some seed trays on their lawn, and the tortoise had used them as a step to freedom up and over the ledge of a patio which was normally too high for him to get past. I have to say, I admire his thoughtfulness to a) notice the escape route, b) take it, and c) most DEFINITELY be heading purposefully off on on adventure. I was forced to attribute thought processes to the creature I’d never before considered them capable of!


  5. Sometimes if I haven’t gotten enough sleep, which is more often and not, and particularly when the whether is wretchedly cold and wicked, I lay awake for hours and worry myself sick thinking about this very thing and all the lost creatures out their just wanting to be found. Ugh. My mind and logic assure me that we can only do so much, we cannot save them all but damn, I surely would if I could. xoxoxoxoxo Hooray for your hope over the pond time coming up!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. As with all you pen, I love this . . . whenever I see those signs it breaks a little nugget off my heart, we usually drive the area doing a look-and-see-if-we-can-spot whatever beloved pet was described, only once have we mounted a successful search, the actual getting of the animal, a not so nice and quite possibly evil, never mind, most likely terrified cat, took longer that the looking. In the end, the smiles on their *surprised to be receiving their lost cat at 7am on a Sunday*, faces made it so much worth the while.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I see those lost pet signs pretty regularly too. Sometimes they go away and I hold the hope that the animal was found and got home, but no way to know. In a way worse are the stories from our local (no kill) shelter of dogs and cats found wandering because their humans apparently moved away and just left them. I can’t imagine doing tha instead of bringing them to the shelter because they can’t take them with for some reason. “FOUND” is good message to see even with out the details.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That really sucks. I hate what people do to animals, sometimes. I know they’re ‘just’ animals, but they do have feelings, and they DO get attached to people. To suddenly be abandoned must be so confusing.

      FOUND is such a good message…I only hope it wasn’t a wasted one. I really hope the owner and the finder linked up before all the information got washed away 😦


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