How Some 500 Tweets Got a Lost Dog Home

After Patch the dog boarded a train to Dublin by his lonesome, the Twitterverse ushered him home. RT that!

Michael Leaverton  |  Jul 9th 2012


A few years ago, if a dog hopped a train solo, it might take weeks or months before everyone sorted the mess out. Last week, it took 32 minutes.

Twitter again.

The ordeal started when a Jack Russell Terrier named Patch, upon realizing he was without his owner, apparently decided that the best course of action would be to board a train bound for Dublin, Ireland, and pronto. Jack Russells — always up for an adventure, you know?

Things were going to plan (exactly what that plan was, you’d have to ask Patch) when other commuters realized their fellow commuter sitting next to them was a dog. Introductions were made, hands were proffered and sniffed, heads were patted, and all was well — until somebody realized that Patch was alone.

Authorities were alerted. And so was Twitter.

Irish Rail tweeted its 18,000 followers: “Lost dog! Boarded at Kilcock at 06.49 this morning, currently being looked after in Pearse Stn. Please ReTweet.” Retweet those followers did, and did, and did — more than 500 times in 32 minutes.

During that time, Patch got along famously with his temporary and rapidly moving family.

“Rail workers on board dubbed the dog Checker,” wrote the New York Daily News, “joking he might be trained to inspect people’s tickets, as commuters took turns petting the friendly dog.”

It took just over a half hour before Irish Rail staff received the response they had been hoping for. It came from Deirdre Anglin of Kilcock, County Kildare. She tweeted: “That’s my dog! I’ll call the station now.”

Irish Rail’s Twitter followers, no doubt breathless, got the good news first.

“Looks like we’ve found the owner, we’ll confirm shortly – 32 minutes it took, great work all, thanks for all the RTs!”

Another tweet soon followed, this one with a photo of Patch and Deirdre together again in the train station.

“Reunited! @DeirdreCA and Patch after Patch’s early morning commute from Kilcock to Pearse!”

“It was good she showed up so quickly, because the staff in the office were getting quite attached to him,” said Irish Rail spokesman Barry Kenny, according to the Daily News.

The story of Patch shows the power of social media, especially in a place that has taken to it as much as this corner of Ireland. Even Patch himself, now famous after his jaunt to Dublin, joined the service after his great adventure, kicking off his feed with heartfelt thanks:

“Hi Everyone 😀 I learned how to use this Twitter thingy after it helped me find my way home. Thanks @IrishRail and @DeirdreCA woof woof”

The pup has since racked up more than 254 followers with 55 tweets. All that work has made Patch one tired dog, as evidenced by the photo to the right, which he tweeted out after his first long day on the service. On the Internet, everyone knows you’re a dog …

Read more at The New York Daily News.