Tuesday night, in a commuter town outside Dublin, Ireland, Patches the Jack Russell terrier turned and walked away from his comfortable suburban home. Worried owner Deidre Anglin posted pictures on Facebook and Twitter, hoping to spread the word and smoke him out. But there was no sign or word from Patches until the following morning when train commuters on the 6:49 a.m. from Kilcock noticed a lone dog in the train car. He made quite a few friends among rail workers and commuters, and as they were petting his head and scratching behind his ears they began suspecting his owner wasn’t anywhere on the Irish Rail.
Luckily for Deidre Anglin, Irish Rail is active on Twitter. When the train arrived at the last stop in Dublin, workers took charge of the Jack Russell, whom at this point they had named Checkers, taking photos and tweeting: “Lost dog! Boarded at Kilcock at 06.49 this morning, currently being looked after in Pearse Stn. Please ReTweet.” In 30 minutes time, the post had been re-tweeted over 500 times. It wasn’t long before word made its way to a relieved Anglin: “That’s my dog! I'll call the station now,” she tweeted.
Station workers, having already grown quite fond of Checkers, had to hide disappointed faces when she arrived on the next train to reunite with her Patches. Alas, Patches would be Checkers no more, his emancipation squashed and relocation foiled in one lightning blow by our own Orwellian surveillance: social networking. Canines take note, the next time that you’re contemplating escape, avoid public transit.