One morning recently I took Buddy and Sugarplum for a walk then dug around in the yard for a while, trying to make headway eradicating the spring weeds. I had an online class to participate in a bit later in the morning. My plan was to gather up dogs, go inside, make cup of tea and have a few moments of stillness before class.
As I started my dog gathering, I realized Buddy was no where to be found. Strange because he’s usually no more than a few feet from me. I called and made a circle around the outside of the house.
I looked inside the house, making sure I hadn’t accidentally shut him into a room, a search that didn’t make any sense since we’d been outside together but I did it anyway.
He could be characterized as either loyal or needy and usually stays very close but sometimes he gets his nose to the ground and is literally carried away. I guessed he had followed his nose.
I hopped into the car, made a circle through the neighborhood and then out of the neighborhood to an area below where he often goes.
Still no Buddy.
By now, I was missing my class and was mad. And worried. I grabbed a leash and a bag of treats and set out on foot.
The house behind us is under construction. Several workers were gathered together so I walked over.
“Have you seen a black lab?”
“Yea, he went that way,” they said, pointing down the hill toward the creek.
Another man sitting in his pickup truck said, “Yea, a few minutes ago when I drove up he was walking down the road,” and pointed in the same direction as the other men. At least now I had a recent sighting.
I headed out in the direction of the creek again although I’d already driven by it twice.
I started across a rocky, cactus strewn hillside. It gave me a vantage point to look below as well as taking me again outside the neighborhood to a place we often find him when he escapes.
It scares me that he goes this way because it takes him across a road. As I stomp across the hillside, I both curse and pray. I’m frustrated, I’m furious, I’m afraid.
Buddy is a runner and has been since we rescued him a year and a half ago. We have an invisible fence and since he’s learned the boundaries, he doesn’t run off. But I made the mistake of forgetting to put his fence collar back on after our walk. Though he usually stays with me in the yard, collar or no collar, today he seemed to sense his chance and took it.
I picked my way it down the hill, over a fence and to the main road. Then a bit to the left to the little red house where I’ve found him before. And sure enough, this time, there he was, sniffing around the yard. I called him and, as soon as he saw me, he started wagging his tail and ran right to me.
He was wet—he had clearly taken himself for a swim before heading off to his other favorite spot down the hill.
I put his leash on him and we headed home. As we walked back up the hill, I could feel the forty-five minutes of frustration, worry and anger start to fade. He was just doing what dogs do. He had followed his big Lab nose to water and then to whatever enticements are across the road at the house at the bottom of the hill.
I was relieved he was safe and silently apologized for my frustrated fantasies of getting rid of him.
I made sure to put his fence collar on his as soon as we got home. He slept very well for the rest of the afternoon. I was grateful for his contented snores.