Saturday, March 25, 2017

The Memory Game

Photo courtesy
My husband and I  enjoyed a ten day Royal Caribbean cruise on the Serenade of the Seas to get away from the harsh Wisconsin winter. We were headed for the Southern Caribbean, a long haul from Fort Lauderdale so we had a few days to enjoy the ship and it's amenities.  But one can only endure so much sunshine and after a few hours on deck, I headed down to the theater for a "Memory Seminar" put on by one of the ship's entertainers.  Heaven knows, I can use a little help in the memory department so I thought this would be an hour and a half well spent!

I was thoroughly impressed with the seminar and the speaker  so I will give him a plug here.  His name is Lance Ringnald.  He is a retired American gymnast who is also very talented at juggling, music and memory skills.  He has a great sense of humor and if you get a chance to see him on a cruise ship near you, don't miss the opportunity.  He demonstrated his gymnastic, juggling and musical skills in the main theater in the evening and as I mentioned, he gave a memory seminar during an afternoon on a sea day.  Here is a link to his website if you are interested in more info about Lance.

Lance is a mnemonist, someone who can commit extremely long lists and large pieces of information to memory.   My motivation to attend the seminar was more than just my impending old age.  I was intrigued to learn new skills that could help us at our work at Lost Dogs of Wisconsin and Lost Dogs of America.  An estimated 40 - 60% of animals in shelters are lost pets.  Putting a priority on getting those pets back home will help end shelter killing in America.

In our day to day volunteer work at Lost Dogs of Wisconsin we use our memory a lot.  Someone posts a picture of their missing dog on our Facebook page, and we KNOW we've seen that dog's picture somewhere before! Somewhere, someone posted a found dog that matched that lost dog!  But where was it?  Was it on Craigslist? Or a shelter website? Or on a grocery store bulletin board?  Or on Next Door - the neighborhood app?  Or one of the gazillions of lost and found Facebook pages that are popping up with hapless abandon?

Sometimes we remember. Sometimes we don't.  Since lost dogs have four legs and walk (or get picked up by a Good Samaritan and deposited at an animal shelter miles away from where they went missing) it is vitally important that owners and finders connect somehow, but the ease at which a "match" can be missed is frightening indeed.  Also consider that many municipalities have ridiculously short stray holds, so a lost dog may not be in the "stray" photos, but in the adoptable photos instead. Or unfortunately, the dog may have been put down at the shelter if the owner wasn't found in time.

Some days I feel like we are playing the Memory Card game. Remember playing that as a kid? You have to lay out all of the cards face down on a table and then try to make pairs by turning over two at a time.  The person who can make the most pairs in the shortest amount of time wins.  There are apps that you can download on your phone or tablet to play the game electronically.

Having a good memory is important for when we lose our car keys or forget a new acquaintance's name.  But it shouldn't be important for people wanting to help missing pets.  We don't need to have a memory like Lance Ringnald's to solve the missing pet problem in this country.

We simply need everyone to use ONE free centralized database, Helping Lost Pets.  Can you imagine if every shelter, vet clinic, police department and animal control facility listed all of their found pets in ONE database?  Can you imagine if all of those places directed owners and finders to enter their information into that ONE database also? Can you imagine if all the major players in the lost and found world shared data so that all photos could be viewed in ONE place?  We would have a lot more happy reunions and a lot less shelter pets needing new homes.

Unfortunately we're not there yet. But we're working on it and little by little, we're making headway with some major American animal control facilities recently joining! Until then, I'll work on my memory using Lance's suggestions I learned on board the ship.

If you would like to be a volunteer lost pets matcher for Helping Lost Pets please send me a private email message at and I'll get you started.  Good memories helpful but not required!

"Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much." 
Helen Keller

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