DUBLIN - When Patch hopped aboard the train to Dublin, it took the power of 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 Wednesday morning commuters on a train from rural Kilcock, County Kildare, an hour's ride away.
After more than 500 retweets in just 32 minutes, the photo found Patch's owner, Deirdre Anglin, who tweeted the state railway: "That's my dog!"
The episode underscored the ubiquitous use of mobile-friendly social media sites in Ireland, a tech-savvy corner of Europe where cell phones were the norm long before they were in the United States.
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 dubbed the dog Checker, joking he might be trained to inspect people's tickets, as commuters took turns petting the friendly dog. They turned him over to Pearse Street station staff on the train's final stop in the heart of the capital, 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. And 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?"