I can’t walk by a lost-pet poster without looking at it. It’s awful to lose your pet. Just saw one yesterday for a “Lost Stufy.” The picture was excellent. I would totally recognize that stuffy. I wouldn’t know who to call, though.

We lost our dog Boomer a few times although in those days she routinely leaked out of the back yard, and had a regular garbage-can run and social obligations, and we didn’t always notice she was missing. Dave’s mom lived a mile down the street and one day she called us up to ask if we had Boomer, and we said we did, but it turned out we didn’t. “Because I think she’s knocking on my back door,” she continued. Poor little button heard fireworks and went straight to Grammy’s.

Another time we knew she was missing and we were calling for her for a long time and our neighbor came out. “Are you looking for Boomer? She’s in your car,” she said, pointing, and there she by gum was, her little paws on the window, trying her very best to come when she was called. I believe I’d briefly opened the car door to look for my wallet and zhoom she was in there like an injection. Go for a ride? I’m pretty sure the animal control guy needed only to open their door for her, too.

Lost pet posters have changed. Used to be there’d be a description and a phone number, maybe a photo. Last week we saw one with a QR code you could scan to get a recording of the owner’s voice calling the animal. You always want to be the hero. We’ve never found one that had a poster but twice Dave has hauled in an obviously distressed and lost dog, and tracked down the owner.

“I think I’ve found your dog,” Dave said over the phone to one perplexed fellow. He described the dog then lying in our kitchen with his head on his paws, his eyes shifting left, right, his thought balloon clearly saying Oh man, I really fucked up this time.

“I don’t think so,” said the man whose phone number was on the dog’s tag. “My dog is locked in my house. I’m at work.” There was a pause as he worked it out. “Oh shit,” he said.

A new wrinkle in the lost-pet-poster business is that people are unclear on the concept of “indoor cat.” Most of us know what “indoor cat” means. It means if you’re the plumber you don’t linger in the open doorway hiking up your pants. It means your friends are supposed to remember to shut the door behind them. They’ll forget, and then they’ll be all panicky when your cat wanders out, because they don’t know you can just say Potato Brewster? Are you an outdoor kitty? No you are not, and she’ll turn around and trot back in. If you have an indoor cat, people will either assume you hate cats and want them to be miserable and unfulfilled in their lifetime, or they’ll assume you don’t want your cat to be squished or crunched into nuggets by a coyote, depending on their viewpoint. But they’ll understand the concept.

No more. I’ve now seen two posters describing what the owner called an “indoor/outdoor kitty.” Honey? That’s not an indoor kitty. Are we drawing some sort of distinction here between owned cats who come inside when they feel like it, and the ones full of mites and fetal kittens that you subsidize under the hedge? “My cat is totally indoors,” the poster says, “except when it wants to go out.” This sort of reminds me of how people now make a point of saying “Have a good rest of your day,” because it’s too late to do anything about what came before. “Bummer about your house fire—have a good rest of your day!” Some distinctions just don’t need to be made.

Yesterday I saw a poster for a lost three-legged cat described as an “indoor kitty with an outdoor attitude.” That’s not a helpful description—that’s a personal ad. “Pisces, likes long sneaky walks behind the shrubbery and quiet sparrow dinners for two.”

But my favorite poster lamented the loss of Cloudy the parakeet. If you see Cloudy, you can play “Kiwi and Pixel the Parakeets” on youtube and he will fly to you and land on your phone. Don’t move, and text the owner very carefully.

Phone screens can be cleaned with a damp microfiber cloth.