We at Lost Coast Communications are thrilled to introduce a revamped and centralized and generally teched-out hub for a community cause that has always been near and dear to our hearts – reuniting lost pets with their human companions.

That hub is called Humboldt Paws Cause, and it went live last night about 12 hours before its scheduled launch date. Why? Because after working on it pretty solidly for a week or so, I got home last night to discover that the dog my family had been dogsitting had run away. More on that in a moment.

Why do you want to be hooked into the Paws Cause? Because if your dog runs off, or if your cat disappears, or – conversely – if someone’s pet boa constrictor somehow finds its way into your bathtub, then you need help. You go to the Paws Cause site, and you get all the help that can be humanly provided.

Here’s how it works. Fill out a simple lost pet report or found pet report, and all our radio stations – KHUM, KSLG, KWPT and KXGO – are notified. The details will be read out to our listeners at the very first opportunity. Your lost or found pet will be automatically added to our master map of all currently lost and found pets in the county. What’s more, the site will automatically generate a poster for you to print out and tack up around your neighborhood. (Example.)

So it’s pretty boss. What’s more – if you are a lover of animals, you can aid the cause by embedding the up-to-the-minute Paws Cause widget on your own website. The community will bless you for your efforts.

Questions? Send ‘em to me at hank@khum.com.

Now, a testimonial:

Our nephew’s dog did a runner from our house sometime yesterday afternoon. We searched the house, we searched the yard, we searched the block – zero. The little son-of-a-bitch was completely gone. We asked the neighbors, we called the animal shelter, we called the police services unit, we called the local pet store, I launched the Paws Cause website early, and we called the radio station to report the dog missing.

For several hours afterward my wife and I took turns driving the neighborhood while the other sat by the phone. Someone who heard the announcement on the radio called in to say that she saw the dog running down Harris at about 2 p.m. We concentrated our search in the neighborhoods and woody areas on the south side of Harris. Nothing.

Then at about 11 p.m., my wife suggests that I take one last look for him at my sister-in-law’s (currently vacant) house. Since the place is all the way across town and through dozens of blocks of what must be terra incognita to Skipper, this seems all kinds of insane. But the Harris Street clue fit the hypothesis, and of course I do it.

In the dark of night, I pull up to the house and start peeking around. I walk along the front yard, staring in. I hear yapping down a side street, so I head thither with eyes peeled. I walk back to their house and scrutinize the front yard some more. Then I notice a neighbor across the street scrutinizing me.

So I go over and introduce myself, and I tell this fellow my story. I tell him my name, I tell him that the people who lived across the street were my sisters-in-law, I tell him that they are away for the summer. I say that he must know their annoying little dog, who had been given to running back and forth along their fence yapping his head off every time anyone walked past.

And while I am saying this last bit, we both start to hear a small sound in crescendo: tinkle tinkle tinkle.

And while we turn our heads I swear to God he says: “You mean that dog right there?”

And there is Skipper, tearing toward us from down the block, from the other side of the street.

So it’s one of those mysteries. How did a tiny little no-account creep of an animal with brains the size of a walnut find his way a mile and a half across town, through busy traffic, though neighborhoods it had only seen (at best) from the window of a car?

I have no idea. But here is a forensic reconstruction of his incredible journey:

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