January 30 started off as a California Saturday like any other.
At about 10 AM, my friends Sarah, Joseph, and I headed to Runyon Canyon, a rather easy trail as far as hiking in Los Angeles goes full of dogs and celebrity sightings, to hike at our own pace and enjoy the 80-degree California winter.
After taking about 20 minutes to find a parking spot, we spent two hours meandering around Runyon, stopping almost every five minutes to pet a dog running by off-leash with a stick in its mouth. This was generally how we hiked: at the pace of the pooches, since we are the biggest dog lovers in the Los Angeles area.
By the time we were finished with our hike, the three of us were equally starving, and so we Ubered over to a nearby restaurant to refuel and regroup. Being the typical and unabashedly basic Angeleno that I am, I took the time between ordering and receiving our food to Instagram a photo from our hike just hours before, but I was surprised to check back on the photo later and find a comment that made my heart sink.
Just under a friend’s comment about my purple hair, a dog Instagram had posted to ask if I had seen a specific dog while at Runyon earlier that day. “Any chance you saw this dog while at Runyon?,” the account asked me. “Lost dog and we are trying to find him. Was spotted earlier today. See @everybodyloveskramer.”
Of course, I immediately clicked on the Instagram account for this lost dog, who happened to be a Doodle, the same breed as my own dog in New York.
My mind started racing as I looked over Kramer, the missing dog’s, photos. Had I seen him?
Actually, I had. Because I have a doodle of my own, I always go out of my way to pet similar-looking dogs, and Kramer stood out to me as an especially fluffy and friendly doodle. When I realized that I had seen this missing dog on my hike and did nothing to help his owner find him, I felt like I had committed the ultimate crime.
From then on, I did everything I could to help locate Kramer, who had been missing since December 17. I started by giving Nik, Kramer’s owner, as much information about my encounter with his dog as I could remember.
I messaged the official Facebook account for Kramer’s search efforts, Bring Kramer Home, to notify Nik about what I knew, and about a week after the encounter Nik texted me to get some more information.
It was hard to have to tell him that I might have seen his dog–even pet him–and did nothing to contact him because I simply didn’t know he was missing, but Nik was grateful for any information at all and didn’t blame me for not taking action.
On February 9, that good news finally came. “KRAMER HAS BEEN FOUND!!,” the official Facebook page exclaimed. “I will post more details soon but HES BEEN FOUND!!!”
After so much dread and sadness for Nik and Kramer, I couldn’t handle my excitement upon reading those words. Like the thousands of others involved in Kramer’s safe return, I was curious about where he had been found and what state he was in, but I was mostly just happy for Nik that him and Kramer would be reunited soon.
On February 9, Nik flew back to Los Angeles from Seattle, where he had accepted a new job before Kramer went missing, to pick up his best friend, and the two are back together at last.
As any owner would be, Nik is beyond relieved that Kramer is home and healthy. Aside from a bath and a lot of treats, Nik said that Kramer needed no medical attention and was simply happy to be home.
“[Kramer] seemed fine, he seemed like he was fairly well cared for,” said Nik. “His demeanor and spirits and everything… he was doing fine. I think he viewed me more as like, where have you been this whole time, dad?”
Oddly enough, despite how kempt Kramer appeared, he was found wandering on the streets near USC by a man who brought the Doodle to the South Los Angeles Animal Shelter nearby. Through the power of the social media, the man who found Kramer was able to contact Nik, eventually reuniting the two.
Nik knows that Kramer was found near USC’s campus, but the remainder of his whereabouts while missing remain a mystery. Until someone invents the technology to allow us to communicate with dogs, we may never know where Kramer was all this time. Wherever he was these past few weeks, Nik is just happy to have him home now.