Toby, the "dog" that was "missing."

What Happens if a Man in a Van Really IS Looking for His Lost Dog?

Here’s a kind of wacky thing that happened in Louisiana last week, courtesy of Ashleigh “Flossy” Dowden, who describes herself as a “mom, wife, sister, actual ex-felon, proudly progressive political pain in the ass, crazy cat lady, dirty joke teller, and garden geek who lives in the neighborhood spooky house.”
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Okay then! Here’s the little note she sent:
Man looking for dog caused hysteria among parents in Ascension Parish
http://www.wbrz.com/news/man-looking-for-dog-caused-hysteria-among-parents-in-ascension-parish
Hysteria! Panic! Men! Naturally, I asked her to elaborate, and she did:

Ascension Parish is just a few miles away from where I live in Baton Rouge. 30 years ago that was all country but these days the parish is filled with non-minority middle and upper class folk who say they’ve moved out there for the peace and safety of suburban life. Yet it seems to me these people get spooked pretty hard by, well, just about anything.

When rumors started to fly last weekend that a man was asking kids for help finding a dog, the social media scene totally blew up (no thanks to the sheriff!). Comments poured across the screen like, “Watch out for the babies!” “Always report unfamiliar cars!” “Have the kids he approached been able to give a description to a sketch artist?”

Now, in between these comments were messages from the dog owners’ grandma, his friends and others who urged everyone to calm down that it wasn’t a “predator.” But no one wanted to hear it. The ecstasy and hysteria of the increasing fear, paranoia and fury was probably the most excitement some of these people had in years.

A woman actually ran out and grabbed a child she saw talking to the man in the car and forcefully dragged him away!

When the dog was actually found and returned to his perfectly normal owner there was no apology and no celebration. People still wanted to discuss the event as if it was good practice for the day a real monster came.

I’m starting to think people get off on this kind of fear. When we find it more likely that a man is snatching kids from the curb by using the old “lost dog” story than a dog actually running off and a man was looking for him, that proves our obsession with the boogeyman.

People are faking problems so they can fake solve them. No one will say boo, because it’s about the kids and if you don’t want to protect the kids you obviously want to molest them.

Poor Toby the dog, he came so close to living the lonely life of a hobo mongrel after watching his beloved master burned at the stake.

Toby, glad you’re home. Toby’s dad: the same. – L.

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Toby, the “dog” that was “missing.”

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24 Responses to What Happens if a Man in a Van Really IS Looking for His Lost Dog?

  1. Jetsanna February 2, 2017 at 2:12 am #

    He may have gone about it the wrong way, but I don’t know how rural it is there. My neighbors lose their dogs a lot (I don’t have any). Usually, it’s a knock on the door by one of the kids saying that whomever has gotten out. We jog down the sidewalk calling the dog. Sometimes someone will drive by, ask if we’re looking for a dog and report that they saw it around the corner peeing on some rose bushes.

    Sometimes, the dog just doesn’t respond, nor do neighbors.*Then* you start driving around the neighborhood, calling the dog out the windows. And we have slips of paper with a phone number on it for if we encounter anyone by the road we don’t know.

    So, if someone encounters a guy yelling a random name out of his window, who then gives his phone number, I mean…that sounds even worse, doesn’t it? But it seems to work around here.

  2. James Pollock February 2, 2017 at 3:57 am #

    There’s people primed for hysteria, but there’s probably ways to defuse at least some of it… like, say, trying to talk to both adults and children.

    The last time I had to go looking for a dog, I was fortunate enough that someone found the dog before I knew she’d gotten out of the back yard… so there’d been a round of “anyone missing a dog?” before I showed up, trying to find a dog.

  3. BL February 2, 2017 at 5:16 am #

    ‘When we find it more likely that a man is snatching kids from the curb by using the old “lost dog” story …’

    In that neighborhood, a pervert could easily gain access to children by posing as …

    “Have the kids he approached been able to give a description to a sketch artist?”

    … a sketch artist!

  4. MichaelF February 2, 2017 at 6:07 am #

    Everyone wants to be a hero, and in times like this they have the perfect chance. Whether or not the villain is real they saved a child!! Huzzah!!

  5. lollipoplover February 2, 2017 at 8:22 am #

    We fostered a really naughty dog after he had been returned to the rescue 4 times. He was super sweet and loving, but we nicknamed him Bolt ( after Olympian Usain Bolt) for his running skills. We have a fenced-in yard, but he found ways to tunnel under the fence or head butt the post or chew the post so he could make a hole. Every day, he tried to escape…so he could chase squirrels, birds, and bunnies.

    I used to drive around trying to find him while my children went of foot or bikes with leashes. Their friends helped too. The car thing didn’t last long, because the dog saw it as a game and decided to chase my car (but run when I tried to get out, he bolted). We figured out that he was afraid of adults trying to catch him, but not children.

    I met so many kind and helpful people who wanted to help catch our idiot dog! One was a mom with a 4 year-old daughter who actively wanted to help us. She would go out and sit in the field calling his name- he always came to her. The kids had better luck catching him than the adults! They had strategies and lured him with food (he has a weakness for cheese) and figured out ways to bring him home safely, every time.

    We have since adopted this goof and reinforced our fence with an electric fence. His runaway escapades have been cut back dramatically and he is an awesome family pet, The kids in the neighborhood adore him and always approach me when I am out walking him. Change the warped mindset that our kids are walking targets for predators to the reality- they are capable, helpful dog finders that want to see a dog safely returned. And in my case, they do it better than adults!

  6. Ater February 2, 2017 at 8:44 am #

    When I was a kid someone in a truck pulled over as I was playing and asked if I’d seen a dog running around. I said no, but I’d keep an eye out, and he drove away. I spent the afternoon looking for the dog, but never found it.

    I have no idea what the man’s intentions were, but I had enough sense not to get in the truck with him, and enough courtesy to be polite and watch out for the dog. I was well accustomed to finding stray dogs and returning them to stranger’s houses.

  7. Amy O February 2, 2017 at 8:50 am #

    “the ecstasy and hysteria”

    Excellent way to put that.

  8. Richard February 2, 2017 at 9:28 am #

    I live in Ascension Parish. The area where this happened was fairly well-developed and populated. I frequent this website and am a believer in not being so suspicious of people. I had not heard of this occurrence until just now. There are two ironies here. The first is that just a few days prior to this, an actual cop came up to me while I was walking my dogs in my neighborhood to tell me that a dog was lost and asking if I’d seen it. As it turns out, the owner was a friend of mine and I had already known about the lost dog and was looking out for it. (It was eventually found safe). The second is that while I consider myself reasonable and not overly suspicious, one of the few directives we have given our pre-teen daughter is not to go with any adult who says he needs help, and that no adult needs the help of children. OK, maybe that isn’t always true, but we consider it a good compromise between safety and freedom. I think this guy could have gone about things better, or maybe he was desperate enough to find his dog to flout social conventions and explain himself later.

    And to speak up for Ascension Parish, it’s not as white and rich as your correspondent would have you believe. There has been an influx of that in recent years into new developments, but the older parts of the parish remain diverse and mixed-income. People who live in those new developments tend to be isolated from those areas and forget they exist.

  9. John B. February 2, 2017 at 10:24 am #

    “I’m starting to think people get off on this kind of fear.”

    Exactly. Same reason many of us like seeing horror movies. We LOVE to be scared!

  10. John B. February 2, 2017 at 10:36 am #

    “When the dog was actually found and returned to his perfectly normal owner there was no apology and no celebration. People still wanted to discuss the event as if it was good practice for the day a real monster came.”

    It’s really funny that when it comes to children Americans lose all rational thought.

  11. K February 2, 2017 at 10:46 am #

    This is what I don’t love about the “adults don’t need help from children” advice. Sometimes . . . we do. (Because children are also competent human beings who are able to provide it.) I would still maintain that a child shouldn’t GO anywhere with an adult who claimed to need help, but looking out for the dog? Without calling the FBI? That seems like an appropriate minimum amount of neighborliness from a person of any age.

  12. Neil M February 2, 2017 at 11:26 am #

    I find myself wondering just what transpired when the police “tracked down” this man who had done nothing illegal. Just what were they expected to do, anyway? The guy would have been well within his rights to refuse to answer any questions at all, which of course would have made everyone even more panicky because, obviously, if you don’t want to talk to police you must be guilty of *something*, right?

  13. Christopher Byrne February 2, 2017 at 12:30 pm #

    “They’ll fall for it hook, line and sinker because it’s what they want.”
    –Billy Flynn from the musical “Chicago”

    Drama drama everywhere and not a sec to think.

  14. Kirsten February 2, 2017 at 12:51 pm #

    There’s nothing wrong with someone driving around asking people to keep an eye out for a lost dog. I do think it would be strange (obviously not the case here) if someone stopped a child and asked him/her to come with him in the van to look for the dog. That wouldn’t make sense. But yes, the mere fact of looking for a dog and/or having a van should not send people into hysterics.

  15. EricS February 2, 2017 at 12:54 pm #

    This goes back to something I mentioned in the past. Dopamine. Dopamine is the main ingredient to people’s addiction. Be it food, sex, anger, or fear. It is released by the hypothalamus. Which ironically, is located just below the temporal lobe. Better known as the impulse part of the brain.

    Quick re-cap lesson on the human brain: The temporal lobe is the part of the brain that starts to develop first from birth. It’s the part of the brain that generates our impulses. The need to do something right there and then. The frontal lobe, which is the last part to develop in the human brain (development stops in our late 20’s). The frontal lobe is what makes use THINK before leaping (temporal lobe activity). That is why when we were young, we did very risky and stupid things. It’s in human nature, and required for us to learn how to better ourselves. Make better decisions, use common sense, and reason.

    Studies have shown that FEAR activates dopamine in our brains. So people who are prone to anger, actually get a kick out of it. Literally. It sends a “feel good” feeling. So they keep being angry. Like any other addiction, it becomes problematic over time. Fear is no different. And coincides with Anger. So in a scientific perspective, fearful, unreasonable people are “addicts” to their own minds. BUT like any other addiction, it can be overcome. One just has to choose to do so for themselves. But alas, seems most people prefer to succumb to these impulses. Much easier to give into temptation, than fight it mentality. Tells a lot about our society. Mind you, this isn’t isolated to this generation. It’s been happening since the dawn of man. But it’s by far the worse it has been in this generation than any other. And sadly, the older we get, the more we become set in our ways. And for some, that means becoming more unreasonable. Easier for them to become sheeples.

    People just need to stop and think first. There is always that little voice in their head telling them to smarten up. Most just don’t listen and give in to their fears and angers. Because it’s what they are addicted to.

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  16. fred schueler February 2, 2017 at 1:32 pm #

    Why is it always a ‘van’? Would it be safer looking for a Dog in an SUV?

  17. angeleyes1307 February 2, 2017 at 2:08 pm #

    I really dislike the concept of “no adult ever needs help from a kid.”
    It just sends the message that kids are nowhere near competent competent enough to provide help. My kids know not to go anywhere with an adult who can’t give the “password”, but they are smart and observant and comfortable talking to adults. It also will make their day when they can help an adult with something and my son goes out of his way to open doors or pick up things people dropped because he really enjoys that feeling. I can just imagine how happy it would make him, an avid animal lover, to help someone find their dog.

  18. Sue Luttner February 2, 2017 at 2:41 pm #

    As this article and the comments illustrate, free-rangers are willing to stop and think as a lifestyle. Bravo. If only that were more common among human beings.

    Tragically, the urge to indulge the lurid in the name of protecting children has created another, more terrible hysteria around the diagnosis of shaken baby syndrome, a flawed theory that entered the courtroom in the 1980s without scientific proof and has been tearing apart innocent families ever since.

    Child-care provider Jennifer Del Prete, for example, had a long and spotless record as a child care provider. Character witnesses at her trial included other parents at her children’s school, a pastor who hired her to do child care at his church, and her co-workers in the children’s room at the public library. The 3-month old who fell unconscious in her care had no bruising, grip marks, or broken bones, but did have a complex medical history and an unexplained brain bleed already weeks old the day Del Prete called 911. Even with all that, Del Prete was convicted by the testimony of child abuse experts who believed they could tell from the brain findings that the baby had been violently shaken minutes before her collapse.

    Unlike most people in her circumstance, Ms. Del Prete is now out of prison after a successful appeal. For details, please see https://onsbs.com/2014/01/28/jennifer-del-prete-a-thrilling-if-dainty-step/

  19. Willow February 2, 2017 at 3:38 pm #

    The police chief was in his car and asked me if I’d seen the lost dog he was looking for. I don’t think I panicked.

  20. donald February 2, 2017 at 6:05 pm #

    I believe that some of the people were very concerned about a potential kidnapper luring children by using a fake lost dog story.

    Excuse me as I jump to another topic that seems unrelated.

    I use to skydive. The adrenaline rush is amazing! Many people enjoy the cascade of the bodies own chemicals that are released in certain situations. You don’t have to be a thrill seeker to get them. Viewing All Star Wrestling produces them as well. The fans go ape $hit over the matches even though they know that they’re fake! This is the same with ‘Keeping up with the Kardashians’. This outrage that it produces is well enjoyed (by some) even though they know it’s scripted. Outrage is not the only appeal to it. It also has the appeal of a 1920’s circus, COME SEE THE FREAKS! SEE THE BEARDED LADY. SEE THE CREATURE THAT IS HALF MAN, HALF SNAKE. SEE THE MIDGET THAT IS ONLY 2.5 FOOT TALL! (apologies) I’m mocking the 1920’s attitude.

    I’m sure there were people that were genuinely concerned. However many knew that the lost dog story was real but went along with it anyway because the dopamine rush is thrilling. Not only that, it helps you to escape your other problems such as:
    money (lack of)
    you work for a jerk
    you don’t work and are desperate to find work
    a close friend keeps falling for abusive boyfriends

    This is the same appeal as Amber Alerts. If a child in North Carolina goes missing, you can get a text message sent to your phone in California.

  21. Michelle February 2, 2017 at 7:24 pm #

    Sue, Shaken Baby Syndrome is indeed another example of child-protection hysteria gone wild. Lenore has written about it before: http://www.freerangekids.com/shaken-up-about-shaken-baby-syndrome/

  22. donald February 2, 2017 at 8:51 pm #

    @EricS

    I’m thrilled to see another with a similar comment about our own natural drugs. The body creates them and therefore many people don’t comprehend how they can be turned into recreational drugs.

    All emotions have chemicals that helped to create the feeling. Emotions are not the problem. They’re life. The problem comes into it if we allow ourselves to become addicted. Some people can understand how drama and outrage (dopamine – which is pleasurable) can become addicting. However, any emotion can become addicting. (even sadness)

    You can become tired of being sad all of the time. You then decide to change your lifestyle so that you can be happy again. However, a few days later, you go through the chemical withdraw. You then talk yourself out of making any changes. An example would be:

    “He’s really not that bad. He can be very sweet sometimes except for that time when he broke my ribs”.

  23. Papilio February 3, 2017 at 8:02 pm #

    “Naturally, I asked her to elaborate”

    It was the ‘dirty joke teller’ bit that got you, wasn’t it?

  24. Katie February 10, 2017 at 4:11 pm #

    Ms. Dowden gets it right when she says that it is the most excitement some of these people have had for years and that they love fear. Some people need to live a little more.