Skip to comments.ShareGrieving dog owner touched by strangers' kindness
Posted on 04/29/2011 1:49:04 PM PDT by afraidfortherepublic
For 26 days, D.J. Rodrian put normal life on hold while he led an exhaustive search for his lost dog, Titus.
Rodrian slept many of those nights in a tent in his former neighborhood in the hope his beloved pet would return to the familiar spot.
Hundreds of people responded to ubiquitous fliers and to Rodrian's website devoted to the search. Total strangers walked or drove the Menomonee Parkway, the Oak Leaf Trail, Currie Park, the Mount Mary College neighborhood and other areas, hoping to find the 8-year-old Rhodesian Ridgeback.
The happy outcome everyone hoped and prayed for was not to be. On Tuesday, Titus was found dead near the railroad tracks behind the Best Buy store on Mayfair Road.
The grieving is communal. Rodrian has received emails of condolence from all over the United States and beyond. He posted hundreds of them Thursday on the website, godsinsomniac.com.
This one is typical: "I do not know you or Titus, but your story broke my heart. I cried like a baby when I heard the news that Titus is no longer with us. Please know you did everything you could to find him."
Rodrian, a 43-year-old insurance agent, is trying to focus on the positive. "Here is the good that I see," he posted on the site. "The world is full of nice people who care about others, including a stranger and his lost dog. Our community is kind and helpful and generous. Milwaukee is a wonderful and beautiful place to live."
Titus was a puppy when Rodrian got him. They spent many hours running on the wooded trails along the parkway. The dog was an athletic breed known for its survival skills.
On April 1, while Rodrian was vacationing in Arizona, Titus broke through a window and escaped from a dog sitter's house near 51st and Hampton.
Before dawn the next morning, some people living in Rodrian's old neighborhood at 94th and Burleigh reported hearing the dog barking and howling outside. That's where Titus spent most of his life; Rodrian and Titus moved to the Town of Lisbon last year.
OK, Rodrian thought to himself. If this is where the dog is drawn, then he would camp out in the front yard of one of his former neighbors. In the beginning, he spent every night out there.
His neighbor ran an electric cord to the ice fishing tent so Rodrian could listen to the Brewers. The nights were cold and sometimes rainy.
"How excellent it would be for him to find me, his owner, sleeping there. Or even if I wasn't there, he would find my scent there and the sleeping bag and the pillows, and he would be attracted to that location. That was the whole purpose of Camp Titus," Rodrian told me.
He draped some of his clothing over patio chairs and tossed it on the lawn. This would be scent central, and his "secret weapon" would be dirty socks.
For weeks, Rodrian lived mostly on gas station hot dogs and $1 double cheeseburgers from McDonald's. He showered at the gym, and lived out of his car and the tent. He worked when he could, but would drop what he was doing when it was time to chase down a lead about Titus.
Some of the burgers went into two live traps that Rodrian rented from the Humane Society. "What we caught was three raccoons, a possum and a cat," he said.
Sightings poured in, some more solid than others, and Rodrian plotted them on a Google map on his website. Friends, family and strangers kept their eyes open for any sign of Titus.
Cathy Peck, who lives on the city's northwest side, is typical. She often takes her dog, Bacchus, to Currie Park. She never met Rodrian, but she was touched by his plight. She understands that a dog is like a family member.
"Everybody would take some time every day and look. It was really nice to see how the community came together," said Peck, who programmed Rodrian's cell number into her phone so she could immediately call in a sighting. People reported that they took dog treats and leashes along on the searches, too.
Titus would run from strangers, Rodrian said. He thinks the dog survived those 26 days on its own with little or no direct human contact.
On Tuesday, he got a voice mail from a man who discovered the lifeless dog. Rodrian hurried out there and found that indeed it was Titus. He wept and called family members who rushed to his side.
The dog still had its collar with Rodrian's contact information on it. He noticed that the animal did not have any obvious injuries and didn't look unusually thin, though he guessed that Titus could have eaten something toxic. It appeared the dog had been dead for a few days.
"I don't think he suffered. It looks like he just was tired and laid down and was done with his journey," he said.
Rodrian singled out a few people to thank. They include animal control officer Donn Jacobson, Milwaukee firefighter Shane Corcoran who spent some entire off-days helping on the search, and tireless helpers Jennifer Kraussel, Steve Frantz and Renee Conner.
"I will miss my buddy. He was the best dog ever. . . . All he ever wanted to do was be with me," he shared on the website.
Rodrian has lost a much-loved dog, but gained a new appreciation for the comfort of strangers.
D.J. Rodrian put out live traps along parkways to catch his missing dog Titus. He used double cheeseburgers as bait, but wound up catching only a cat, possum and three raccoons.
Oh, how sad.
But the dog must had a real good life before.
Off topic but since when can you get a double cheeseburger from McDonalds for $1 ??
"On April 1, while Rodrian was vacationing in Arizona, Titus broke through a window and escaped from a dog sitter's house near 51st and Hampton."
Frankly, if I can't take my dog on vacation, I don't go there. If I have to go out of town for business and it's absolutely impossible to take him, I spring for the best kennel I can afford. Fortunately, I have a job that allows me to take my dog along on a lot of my trips, and I've only found myself in this situation a handful of times in the past 10 years or so.
$1 double cheezeburgers are on all the McDonalds’ menus around here. I’ve bought them for my dog more than once.
I take my dog on vacation with me too whenever possible. He’s driven to both coasts and all over the midwest.
God made both of us for a reason, I reckon.
My sister has a ridgeback, greatest dog breed ever. She’s always so gentle with the kids even as babies yanking on her tail but as soon as anyone nears the house she goes into guard dog mode releasing ferocious sounding barks and growling.
The only dog I can play catch with that will patiently drop the ball/frisbee at my feet to be thrown again rather than trying to fight me for it. Even gentle to wrestle with without ever nipping with her teeth but has bitten and chased strangers off the property on several occasions. All without any formal training, just raised in a loving family...
Their free spirited sense of adventure gets them into trouble sometimes. Can’t take the animal out of the dog. They love to explore and get into stuff, and that’s part of what we love about them.
I don’t even fly (other than for business) simply because I’ve heard too many horror stories about pets in cargo. My Ranger (and Timber before him) have always made the best road trip partners. I’m nocturnal when I travel and it seems that wherever I go and pull into any rural service station at 3:00 a.m. for gas, I’ll ask the clerk if there’s a little patch of ground I can let my dog use. They always want to come out and pet him :-)
Dogs are like firearms. What is perfect for one person may be an absolutely horrible choice for another.
Sorry Joe I meant no disrespect for your Belgian Tervuren which I have no experience with! :D
Amen, Joe. For not the first time, we saw a ~lost~ dog in our yard earlier this week. We grabbed the leash to go get him and call animal control, when our neighbors came out and told us he was a dog they were “babysitting”. I bet the owners of these dogs have no idea the people they entrust with their dog have holes in the fence, leave the gates open, and really don’t worry about whether or not their dogs wander into traffic.
Sorry to hear of the man’s loss of his dog,but on a positive note i picked up a lost black lab last night wondering in traffic and brought him home before he got hit. Called the police and SPCA and as of 4:00 this afternoon no one had inquired about him, Shortly afterward’s one of my friend’s stopped by and took him home with him after first going to Walmart and spending approx 100.00 on him for food and snack’s, also bought him a big comfy dog bed. The dog is approx 6 month old, my friend’s place is a 300 acre farm that he drills for oil so the dog will be with him all day running around while he tend’s the well’s. PS he also has a large pond at his house,i’m thinking one very happy dog.
When we shave our Pomeranian she looks just like that!
How wonderful for that lost dog—he’ll be in heaven. Our first dog was a black lab; as we’ve gotten older we’ve had to downsize....
I would have kept him myself but my Jack Russell is in no mood to share me with another dog,while the other dog was in the house he was stuck to me like super glue,now that the other dog is gone he’s back to spread out on the couch,go figure.
No kids in your neighborhood?
Heart-breaking and heart-warming story.
None that I'd trust with my dog.
My Chessie does the same thing when we play fetch. Puts the ball right next to my left foot. My Shepherd drops the ball in front of me - but only after the Chessie does.
While we don't have a Jack Russell, we know the feeling. Our dog is cool with dogs outside but gets a little jealous if they are inside!
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