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Bring Lainey Home

Sep 01, 2015 10:47AM ● Published by Kevin

Gallery: Bring Lainey Home - Stories From the Heartland - Summer 2015 [6 Images] Click any image to expand.

April 14 was one of the windiest days Jaimy Gaines had seen all year. A Clovis resident for a decade, she had experienced weather like this before, so she wasn’t worried as she let her two Miniature Schnauzers, Paisley and Lainey, into the backyard to go to the bathroom. She went back to cooking dinner.

Twenty minutes later, her neighbor, Marsha, knocked on her door with Paisley in her arms. 

“Paisley was across the street,” Marsha said. “He was just standing in the neighbor’s yard.” 

Jaimy’s stomach dropped. “Did you see Lainey?”

“No. Paisley was by himself.”

Panicked, Jaimy and her husband, Richard, took off running down the street, calling for Lainey. A neighbor further down the street saw them running and asked, “Are you looking for the little black dog? She took off down to the park.”

That was a good sign. That was the park Jaimy often took Lainey and Paisley to. She would definitely be there.

The park was empty. 

By now it was getting dark. Jaimy and her husband went back to the house, got in the car, and drove all night looking for their little black dog, hoping she was still in the area. The hours-long search yielded no results. 

Lainey was gone. 

An empty spot at the food bowl

Several long weeks have passed. Jaimy and Richard, along with Richard’s daughter, have made hundreds of signs to post to telephone poles at major intersections in Clovis and Fresno. Yard signs, door hangers, a social media campaign, several large banners, a digital billboard and a door-to-door search have not brought Lainey back home. 

A less committed pet parent might have given up by now. But as Jaimy Gaines sits at a table at La Parisien in Fresno at the beginning of June, it is obvious that there is still some hope left for Lainey’s safe return. 

“We’re hoping, of course, that we have a good outcome,” Jaimy said. “There’s no possibility that she can’t come back.”

Jaimy and Richard got Lainey five years ago as a companion for their first dog, Paisley. Since they both worked all day, Paisley would be left at home by himself a lot, and the couple knew that their dog was lonely. The search for their second dog began.

From the moment Lainey was taken in by her new family, she ruled the roost. Ever the Queen Bee, she spent most of her life on her back wanting belly rubs from her parents and to be groomed by Paisley. He didn’t seem to mind playing second fiddle to his new furry sister; he would gladly groom her for hours on end every single day. He would lick her from head to toe. He would clean her eyes, her ears, her teeth — everything.

Jaimy Gaines, pet parent to Lainey, spends much of her time making yard signs with Lainey’s picture and information to give to local residents who want to help find the lost dog.

When traditional street signs didn’t work, Jaimy and her family moved on to yard signs and door hangers, all the while supplementing their efforts with a social media campaign.

“It was kind of gross sometimes,” Jaimy said of the pair’s daily routine. “She would never have anything in her eyes. It’s literally hours out of the day that he grooms her every day.”

It wasn’t their only ritual. Every night, when Jaimy and Richard fed the dogs their dinner, Paisley would wait for Lainey to come to her bowl and finish eating dinner before he even started. He wouldn’t take a single bite until she was done. After dinner, the dogs would get two milk bones each, scarfing them down, happy to get the treats.

Lainey’s disappearance took its toll on little Paisley. The first few weeks she was gone, Paisley still sat at his food bowl, waiting for Lainey to come and eat before he did. Although he has started eating again, he didn’t eat the first few weeks, it seemed, out of respect for Lainey. 

He still gets his two milk bones after dinner. Only now, Paisley doesn’t eat one.

“I give him his two, and he only grabs one of them and drops the other one,” Jaimy said. “He’s been waiting, I guess, to give Lainey one of the milk bones even though we always gave each of them two. There’s a growing pile of milk bones in our house now.”

The dogs who aren’t Lainey

It is not uncommon to see lost dog signs around Clovis. When traditional street signs didn’t work, Jaimy and her family moved on to yard signs and door hangers, all the while supplementing their efforts with a social media campaign. 

“I set up the Facebook page the first couple of days Lainey was missing,” Katie Golden, Jaimy’s stepdaughter, says. “I began sharing it with every lost-and-found pet group we could find on Facebook.”

Golden’s efforts to help in the search drew in a lot of supporters who love their animals just as much as Jaimy’s family loves theirs. Over the next several weeks, people posted to the Facebook page:

“I am looking for her everywhere I go.”

“I pray that Lainey is safe and warm in someone’s bed.”

“I feel so bad for Paisley.”

Members of Bring Lainey Home, the Facebook page Golden set up, have been instrumental in not only getting the word out about Lainey being missing, but have drawn in local animal lovers in the area who have gone out to potential Lainey sightings all over town.

“The amazing part of our group is that there have been so many people involved in going out to lost dog sightings,” Jaimy says. “I just have to put one post on the Facebook page to tell everyone that there’s been a sighting in a certain location. 

A local animal shelter called Animal Compassion Team, or ACT, was able to help the Gaineses score one of their biggest victories: a digital billboard on Herndon and Shaw with Lainey’s picture and information on it.

“There have been days where there has probably been about 30 members of our group that went out to a location because there was a stray dog out there.”

On one such day, there was a sighting on Barstow in Clovis of a dog who looked similar to Lainey. Jaimy was contacted by people who were sure it was Lainey. People texted photos of the dog to Jaimy, telling her, “Your dog is over here!”

Jaimy and multiple members of Bring Lainey Home went out to help the dog. Animal Control and Clovis police came out to try to catch the poor animal, to no avail. Later, Jaimy received another call about another black dog in Clovis and went to see if it was finally Lainey.

“I turned around and traffic was backed up for four blocks, so I knew the dog was over there still,” Jaimy said. “I knew there were a bunch of people from our group who were stopping traffic.” 

The scared and lonely dog wouldn’t come to anyone trying to help him. No one could catch him, either.

An hour after the rescue ended, there was a post on Facebook from a resident of a nearby apartment complex who saw the dog lying outside on the grass. 

“The dog was lying on the grass by my apartment complex and I went and sat on the grass too with some Vienna sausages and the dog eventually came to me so I took care of him,” the post read. 

“After all that!” Jaimy said, laughing at the lengths she and the others went to trying to help these dogs. “It’s frustrating because we want to help them, and they’re so scared.” 

That dog had a happy ending; the woman who approached the dog on the grass outside her apartment adopted him. The Bring Lainey Home Facebook group, because his fur was so long and messy, named him, “Shaggy.”

A community gathers

A local animal shelter called Animal Compassion Team, or ACT, was able to help the Gaineses score one of their biggest victories: a digital billboard on Herndon and Shaw with Lainey’s picture and information on it. 

“Through ACT, we were able to get in touch with OutFront Media, the company that owns the billboard,” Jaimy said. “They allow ACT to use the unused advertising space.”

When she first contacted the company, Jaimy had no idea how much it was going to cost to get Lainey’s face and information on the digital billboard. She only hoped that it was reasonable enough to get Lainey’s face out there more. She didn’t have to wait long. After a discussion about acquiring graphics for the digital billboard, the space was secured. Jaimy didn’t have to pay a thing.

“They told me, ‘No, we’ll take care of it. We want to help you,’” Jaimy said of the conversation. “They said they would take care of everything after getting the graphics from Lainey’s banners. Not even a week later, the billboard was up.” 

Along the way, others have come through for the Gaines family. The Clovis Police Department allowed Lainey’s street signs to stay long after receiving complaints about them. (The city of Clovis has since asked Jaimy to remove all the signs posted on utility poles because they violate the city’s sign ordinance.) California Highway Patrol officers call Jaimy, telling her they are on the lookout for Lainey. 

Cheryl Weber, a real estate agent, often saw Lainey’s street signs on her way to work. A pet parent of dogs herself, the idea of a family going through what the Gaineses were going through tugged at her heartstrings. She felt compelled to do something.

Jaimy’s stepdaughter, Katie, set up the Bring Lainey Home Facebook page, which was instrumental in rallying the community together to try to find Lainey.

“I thought about doing door hangers because that’s something I do for my business,” Weber said of her idea to help the Gaineses. “I asked my friends, Tony and Jennifer Wiest at CalForms, about the cost of doing these hangers for Lainey.” 

1500 door hangers were donated to Jaimy’s family by Weber and the Wiests at CalForms.

In the last two months, the Gaines family and the members of the Bring Lainey Home Facebook group have resorted to every idea possible trying to recover Lainey safely. One of these members, Sarah Farrell, reached out to Jaimy hoping that she can use something she loves — crafting — as a means to help Jaimy and Richard find their beloved dog. The resulting fundraiser, in which Farrell is selling her products, is being used as a way to increase the funds available to help find her.

One of Lainey’s lost dog signs in a Clovis resident’s front yard.

“I just figured a fundraiser could help,” Farrell said. “This fundraiser is for Lainey and to help whatever it takes to get her home. I am hoping this will get people who wanted to donate a reason to put a bid on an item.”

At the time this issue went to press, the fundraiser had not concluded and the amount raised was not available. Although the money is intended to help search for and recover Lainey, if she is not found by April 14, 2016, the one-year anniversary of her disappearance, the money will be turned over to ACT to help other animals.


The search continues

When Lainey went missing in April, Jaimy and her family never thought they would still be looking for her. Although she has not yet been found, many other dogs have been and have been reunited with their own families or found new ones through Team Lainey’s efforts. 

“I don’t even know how many dogs have been picked up and helped and found, but it’s been quite a few that we’ve been able to come across,” Jaimy says. 

Bring Lainey Home on Facebook, although created to help the Gaineses in their search for Lainey, have helped countless other animals. When Lainey does come home, Jaimy hopes to continue the Facebook group as a means to help other families and their lost pets be reunited. 

“We have to keep going to help everybody else, just to pay it forward and make sure that nobody has to go through building this thing that we’ve built from the ground up,” Jaimy says of the Facebook group’s future. 

Until that day comes, the family’s efforts, as well as those of the group, will be focused exclusively on Lainey’s search and rescue. 

“The main focus is finding Lainey right now, “ Gaines says. “This is all about Lainey until we get her home.”

Written by Madeline Shannon, a graduate of Fresno State’s journalism program. She works as a freelance writer for several publications. She is also an active blogger.

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