BY NOW you probably have a pretty good handle on these weird new creatures in your house, these flapjacked puff-knuckles we call "pets." Now hold onto your handbasket, because I'm about to break some hard truth across your brain—those little bastards want nothing more than to run away. You love 'em and feed 'em and pet 'em and call 'em George, but they'll do everything in their power to get the fuck away from you. There are times when your most beloved buddy would rather be in Seattle or Schenectady or wherever they get it into their hare-brained heads to go when you aren't looking.

This news probably bums you out. It bums me out. But what can you do? We are dealing with damned loveable beasts whose brains are the size of kibble. So this is how you'll have to cope with the possibility of losing your li'l snuggle-wuggums:

Buy box of wine. Drink wine.

Fight the inevitable. My brother-in-law has affixed a breadbox-sized tracking device to his itchy-footed feline's collar. You could try that, but you'll have to drive around at night with a huge beeping electronic device while you hang out of a car window. Sad.

Reverse psychology that animal. Leave the front door open frequently. Never shut the gate. Encourage Gruntl to run away.

On the off chance that it's your fault—like you forgot to pack the dog when you were moving—make sure your pooch has a cat and a dog buddy with him. Stay with me here. I've seen a lot of family movies where pets make long homeward-bound incredible journeys across the country to reunite with their families. All these stories have two dogs and a cat traveling together. So if you're going to accidentally leave your pet somewhere, make sure you leave three of 'em.

Last and most definitely least, go to a lot of parties. Chairman Meow was missing for almost two months when I went to a Halloween party and got to talking with an acquaintance. He mentioned that there was a black cat lurking around his work, a much-skinnier match on my runaway kitty. So my boyfriend and I ditched the party, drove 20-plus miles to a maintenance yard and found our madly mewling buddy. Thanks, party small talk!

But seriously, there is nothing worse than losing your fur friend (or bird bud, or whatever). Is your pet micro-chipped? Call the vet. Call your former vet. Start going to your local animal shelters. Go often! Check in with Multnomah County Animal Services at They have great resources, as does the Oregon Humane Society at Then get to canvassing your neighborhood—cats hide, dogs run. Walk, bike, talk, and hunt. Post color-picture flyers. Did you recently move? Look there. That's why Chairman Meow was so far away; he went back to our old apartment. Don't lose heart—that missing dunderhead is out there somewhere.