12 JUL 2012 When Patch hopped aboard a train to Dublin, it took Twitter to reunite the dog with his owner. Irish Rail sent a “Lost dog!” tweet with a photo attachment after the Jack Russell terrier arrived with morning commuters on a train from rural Kilcock, County Kildare, an hour’s ride away.
It took just 32 minutes after more than 500 retweets to reach the owner, Deirdre Anglin, who immediately tweeted the state railway: “That’s my dog!”
Ireland is one of the most mobile-friendly social media places in Europe., and cell phones were in common use long before they were in North America.
Soon after Patch went missing Tuesday night in Kilcock, 20 miles (30 kilometers) west of Dublin, Anglin said she did “the usual social network thing,” posting pictures of the dog on her Facebook account and appealing for followers to spot him.
It wasn’t until after Patch waltzed on to the 6:49 a.m. commuter train in Kilcock that the alarm was sounded.
Rail workers on board called him “Checker,” joking he might be trained to inspect people’s tickets, as commuters took turns petting the friendly dog.
They turned him over to station staff on the train’s final stop in central Dublin, when it became clear the dog had no owner on board.
Irish Rail spokesman Barry Kenny described Twitter as offering the ideal platform for launching a nationwide appeal for the lost dog. He said some staff at Pearse Station wished it hadn’t worked so well.
“It was good she showed up so quickly, because the staff in the office were getting quite attached to him,” Kenny said.
Anglin said she was particularly pleased that Irish Rail posted Patch’s photo on Twitter and noted that the rapid retweets by other users to their own followers ensured that, soon, the alert reached her.
Irish Rail and Anglin posted a series of photos documenting her Dublin reunion with Patch, their return train trip, and car journey home. She said fellow train travelers kept asking her: “Is that the dog from Twitter?”