Bob Swensen Is Everyone’s First Call When Their Pet Goes Missing

The Baltimore County native, known among canine-loving circles as the Lost Dog Guy, has assisted with 1,500 missing animal cases this past year alone.

By Janelle Erlichman Diamond | July 2022

Bob Swensen and his dog, Carly. —Photography by Frank Hamilton

Astro Ball’s Great Big Adventure began one sweltering July afternoon when the 5-year-old, 80-pound Great Pyrenees-collie mix escaped the backyard of a family member who was pet-sitting him while his own family was on vacation.

That started a far-reaching odyssey as Astro traversed Baltimore County, including Timonium, Historic Lutherville, Country Club Park, Orchard Hills, Kenilworth, West Towson, Ruxton, as far south as Lake Roland, and in the tunnels under 695. As distraught owners Kathryn and Alex Ball (both former employees of this magazine) frantically made their way back from their camping trip, they began posting their plight on social media, where one man was tagged again and again.

That man was Bob Swensen, a 59-year-old Baltimore County native, known among canine-loving circles as the Lost Dog Guy. His Lost Animal Resource Group has assisted with 1,500 missing animal cases this past year alone. That includes dogs, cats, horses, turtles, “and other critters.” Swensen, who is always covered in dog hair and is usually wearing something emblazoned with a dog design, is, no surprise, a dog lover. He and his wife, Jen, have fostered close to 80 canines.

But there was one that stood out. Mira—short for Miracle—a Bichon-poodle mix rescued from a puppy mill, is the reason Swensen got into the lost-and-found business in the first place. Mira, who had an affinity for escaping, rehabilitated with the Swensens before being adopted and escaping yet again. Tapping into the foster community, Swensen learned about tracking, feeding stations, traps, and the importance of plastering an area with posters. Utilizing those skills, Swensen, an IT guy with an analytical mind, found Mira, this time in an elevator shaft. It seemed Mira was telling them something—so they adopted her.

“She’s my girl,” Swensen beams, flipping to pictures of Mira on his phone. (If you ask Swensen how many dogs he and his wife have he deadpans, “I have the legal three limit.”) Says Swensen, “After Mira, I just started helping people.”

Most dog owners believe that if their dog got loose, it would come running the minute it heard someone calling its name. (Or at least smelled its owner holding a treat.) But that’s not usually the case.

“You can’t catch them,” says Swensen. “Survival mode does strange things to a dog. It puts them in a feral, almost wild-animal instinct. They are going to avoid every threat, every noise, and every movement, even from the owners.”

The Balls experienced that firsthand when, on the fourth day FINISH READING HERE

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