I told the kids to let you both out. It was a busy day and I had no time for anything. I was a little stressed and hadn’t managed my time very well that day.
I’m not sure how much time went by, maybe ten or fifteen minutes, but I realized you weren’t in the house. I realized that I forgot you guys were even outside.
I opened the door and you were nowhere to be found. I called you both and a minute later Winston came running up to the house from the woods, black and murky from head to tail.
I knew you guys either ran to the pond or maybe the ditch. Judging from the fish water smell, I guessed the ditch because the stench was almost unbearable. But, why weren’t you coming home?
I wasn’t surprised that Winston ran home so fast. He’s a home boy, but not you. You’re one of those dogs you see in the commercials on TV, running through fields of freedom, a hard working dog that can run all day without a break. Like the hard working dog on the Sesame Street video from when I was a kid.**
I continued to call for you and by that point, I started to panic. From the look on everyone’s face, it was obvious what they were thinking. I’d really screwed up this time. Where had you gone?
My first thought in my mind was that if someone found you, we’d never get you back. All it would take is one look in those big brown eyes. You’d be gone forever. How could I have done this?
We called and called and clapped our hands. All was quiet. We checked the pond and walked to the ditch. You weren’t anywhere in sight. I knew if you heard us calling your name, you’d bark. You always do that to let us know you heard us. I realized you must’ve been really far, but where?
I hopped in the car and began to drive. I realized that I’d been so busy, we never got a chance to play Frisbee with you guys. It was still cold out too. Why didn’t I take the time to run you out today? Had you eaten? Shoot, you didn’t even have your identification collar on.
I drove all over from block to block looking for you. I glanced over at every field. It was sunny, but cold, and absolutely nobody on the road. I pulled over and got out. I called for you. After about twenty minutes, the tears started. I began to panic.
I continued to drive. I was hysterical and the tears were flooding my eyes to the point where I couldn’t see well. I pulled over and began to pray. “Please God, bring her home. I screwed up. I’m so mad at myself. Please bring her home safe. Please, God, don’t take her from me.”
It was 3:45pm and at that point it had been over a half hour. The humane society closes at 4pm daily and I needed to call to report that you were lost, otherwise they wouldn’t know to watch for you.
First, I called animal control and left a message. When I called the Humane Society I could barely hear the guy. There were so many dogs barking in the background. I couldn’t describe you to the man. I was losing it and entered a totally panicked state.
I gave him your description through my broken voice. “She’s a black and white border collie, 2 years old, on the smaller side.” He asked your name and that’s when I really lost it. He told me, “We’ll call if she shows up or we hear from somebody.” I could hear the reassurance in his voice, but it still didn’t comfort me.
I had to call mom. Who else could I call? I knew she would ask me why I left you out. She would ask, “How did you forget?” She loves you too.
I told her the truth, that I was too busy doing other things. My mind was lost somewhere between the internet and washing clothes. I cried and couldn’t sit still. I wasn’t breathing right. I paced around the house.
We probably had about forty five minutes of daylight left. I began thinking about the boy that showed up late one night last fall and asked us if he could look around our property for his dog. That night I was thinking, “that poor guy.” Now, I might be in those shoes.
As my mind kept analyzing what to do next, mom was talking into the phone, but I was barely processing anything she was saying. I couldn’t concentrate. Every word went in one ear and out the other.
I started thinking about what life would be like without you. I’d miss your herding behaviors around the house. You wouldn’t be at my feet anymore. No more hugs and smiles. You’re the only dog I know that truly smiles.
As I stood in the hallway with my back to the door, I began to put my shoes back on. I was going to have to drive some more. I wasn’t coming back home without you. I had plans to start asking door to door.
I went to open the door and there you were. I could see you standing just behind the glass in the door. My heart dropped into my stomach. I let out a long sigh.
You were so dirty and had icicles hanging off your fur. While I’d been panicking, you were running free and having the time of your life. I knew you must’ve been swimming in the ditch. I bet it was really fun for you, all that freedom.
When I brought you in and saw the mess, I knew it would take hours to get you clean. You had burrs throughout your whole coat of fur. You were shaking and breathing hard. I was so happy to see you. I wasn’t mad at you.
I put you in the tub and began cleaning you up. I continued to cry and was still very angry with myself. I thanked God repeatedly for helping you find your way home. It was a close call and it was going to take me awhile to get over this, even though you were home. I was so thankful.
I enjoyed every minute of grooming you that day. I appreciated every second of it. I stopped to reflect on just how much you meant to me. I reminded myself that this incident could never happen again.
Every time I bathe you, I think about that day, the day we almost lost you. I won’t ever forget it, Cynder Rae. I’m not going to screw up like that again. I’ll be sure to remember your Frisbee time from now on too.
**Video from Sesame Street – This was on Sesame Street when I was just a child in the 1980’s. Maybe some of you will remember it too. Little did I know, I would have a dog just like this later in life…