Most times, the Los Angeles County animal shelter knows what to do about lost dogs.
But this time isn't like most and this dog isn't lost--it's the town he comes from that no one can manage to find.
The story of the lost town began on New Year's Day. Late in the afternoon, a South Pasadena man noticed a young male mixed golden retriever in his front yard. "He came running up the driveway like he was looking for a friend," said Charles Purnell, 66.
Thinking that the dog belonged to a Rose Parade spectator, Purnell said he walked for blocks along the now-deserted parade route looking in vain for the animal's owner.
Nicknaming the dog Gypsy, Parnell kept him for four days before giving up the hunt. "We figured he must have been scared from the parade," Purnell said. "We kept him outside under the porch light the first night, hoping his owner would come by.
"He was grand. He would sit when you said sit , he was house-trained. He slept at the foot of our bed. "
But when no owner surfaced, Purnell turned to authorities for help. Animal control director Brian Berger took the animal to the county shelter in Downey, explaining "that's where my headquarters are and I wanted to see the dog."
At first, no one at the shelter figured that finding the owner would be any problem--the bell-shaped metal tag on his collar read "Dog Tag 175, Parksville, 1982."
But Bruce Richards, the assistant director of the county's animal care unit, says none of the five Parksvilles they found in the United States had any record of male dog 175, when workers there bothered checking their records at all.
"We just got a disappointing response" from Parksvilles, N.Y.; Kentucky; South Carolina; Tennessee, and Pennsylvania," Richards said. "We just kept running into dead ends."
Searching further, Berger enlisted the help of the U.S. Postal Service, the Sheriff's Department and the Internal Revenue Service, but that hasn't turned up the right hometown either.
It's not as though the dog--who the staff at the animal shelter has rechristened Rosebud, in memory of the parade--is pining away for lack of attention. A darling of the kennel, the small and affectionate little fellow sleeps in Berger's office.
Rosebud "eats anything, tolerates cats, and loves the kids" who visit the shelter, Richards said. "He's grabbed hold of all our hearts down here . . . everybody brings him a treat every day."
"Everyone has fallen in love with this dog," seconded Berger. "If we don't find the owner, I have a list a mile long of people who want to adopt him."
At least two kennel visitors already have volunteered to adopt him if his owner isn't found, and the kennel staff would love to keep him for a mascot.