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“C’mon, Salsa, find your dog, find Sweetie,” called Sam Connelly, Salsa’s owner, handler and partner. The pair set out from a 7-Eleven on Silver Hill Road in Suitland in search of Sweetie, an errant beagle, reports The Washington Post.

Connelly waved a little patch of Sweetie’s dog bed in front of Salsa’s nose, and almost instantly, the retriever strained into her orange harness, nearly pulling her partner down a low hill.

“She’s got it,” Connelly shouted over her shoulder as Salsa rushed, nostrils down, along the sidewalk one day before this month’s snows.

In an era when distraught pet owners go to ever-greater lengths — and expense — to bring their animals home, there are businesses that blast e-mail notices of lost pets to veterinarians and dog walkers, deliver robo-calls to thousands of households and, in the most extreme cases, use Salsa’s tracking skills to scour the Washington area.

Connelly’s Baltimore-based Pure Gold Pet Trackers is busier than ever. “We found 87 animals last year, and this year is shaping up to be just as big,” she said.

Salsa tugged Connelly deeper into the complex of townhouses. The 8-year-old golden retriever was about $300 into the day’s shift and eager for more. Half a mile on, the dog whimpered at the edge of a tangle of bare oaks and old tires. In they plunged, Connelly pushing aside scratchy tendrils as Salsa bore on.

Photo by WashingtonPost.

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Originally posted by Rich Whittle on February 15, 2010 in Ideas.

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