Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Lost Dog

  Gyp is really good about coming to a quick, two-tone whistle. Most evenings I'll leave him to his own amusements throughout the house (Yes! He's an inside dog now!), but whistle every now and again just to bring him over and make sure he's not getting into mischief.

  Tonight I was watching a movie with the family and absent-mindedly whistled for Gyp, just to see what he was up to. He didn't come. Enthralled with my high-action, suspense movie (starring Matt Damon! Eeek!), I didn't give this fact too much thought. Figured the pup must be asleep somewhere... Fifteen minutes later, I whistled for him again. Louder this time, wanting to hear his clicking paws on the hardwood floor. Only Copper, our Golden Retriever, came. So up I got, right in the middle of the movie's climax, and went searching for my dog. I checked the laundry room, the kitchen, the dining room... No Gyp. I quietly poked my head into my bedroom that I share with my four other sisters but didn't see him anywhere on the floor and I knew he couldn't be in his kennel seeing as the door was open and Gyp's not normally the type to randomly go into his kennel when not told.

   Okaaaay. Maybe someone let him outside? That's logical. Mom just got home a little while ago, Gyp could have easily slipped outside. He usually sits on the doormat until someone lets him in, but he wasn't there.

  I whistled into the dark night, but heard no answer. Saw no dog. I whistled louder; the shrill tone echoed through our hills. Still nothing. Gyp's tracking instincts have been seemingly in overdrive lately; lots of critters are coming down from the mountains and that little dog follows his nose willy nilly. For the past three days I've caught him wandering on the road, on the neighbor's property, and once headed who knows where. If Gyp got bored while waiting to be let in, what if he wandered off across the road? The cougars have come down from the quarry and he would be an easy snack for one.

  I ditched all ideas of the movie. (Sorry Matt Damon, I'll have to catch you next time. You look really cool in army camo though.) It was time to hunt for a dog.

  I think a lot of you know this already, but I'll say it again for those who might be knew: I'm afraid of the dark. Well, to be more specific, I'm afraid of what's in the dark. From ghoulies and ghosties, and long legged beasties, and Things That Go Bump In The Night, Good Lord deliver us! (that's some old Swedish prayer or something... No idea where I heard it. But it stuck, and goes through my head whenever I'm alone in the dark) Being out in the dark, alone, without my dog was -- unnerving. Ever since Gyp came, he's been my buddy outside and as he's grown older he's turned into my body guard. Out in the silent, cold dark, I felt exposed and conspicuous. Like something could see me, but not I them. My back was unguarded and I felt like I was prey instead of predator. Think I'm overreacting? Ask the folks in my area about the local cougar problem. These cats are bold this year since the deer population is abnormally diminished.

  I grabbed my dad's strong flashlight (Sorry Dad. I put it back though!) and swept the strobe of light across the landscape; looking for reflective eyes belonging to a small, fox-like dog. I saw nothing. By this time, I was trying not to panic. My dog was gone. This is my buddy, folks. My shadow, my guard, my DOG. And he was gone. I searched the pasture, the barn, the shop, the backyard. I walked across roads, whistling and calling; trying to keep a level of calm in my voice.

  He wasn't answering my whistles. All I could hear were leaves scuffling across the sidewalk, sounding uncannily like dog claws clicking across. The only living creature making noise outside was a pack of coyotes on a nearby hill.

  Now was the time to panic. He wasn't anywhere!! Great. It's dark, I'm exhausted, not feeling good, and I can't find Gyp. All I could think about was that he left me and wouldn't come back. My shadow LEFT ME. It was time for Plan B; whatever that was. I stomped inside, breaking the household rule of "no boots in the house" and searched for mom. Had she seen Gyp anywhere? Did she let him out? When was the last time she saw him? She and my sister Emily both looked at my quizzically and then one of them said, "Um, Caity, he's in his kennel. I just saw him. The door's open and he's just laying there."

  I think my reaction at that is best described as "dumbstruck". He's in his kennel? And the door's open? My dog doesn't just "go to his kennel"!! I flung my boots off and jogged to the bedroom, thinking mixed thoughts of, "I'm gonna' kill him. No, I'm gonna' swear at him for freaking me out like that. No, I'm gonna' make him sleep with me tonight. No, I'm gonna' hug him 'til he pops!"  I plead guilty to late night emotional-ness. Give me a break folks; it had been a long day and I thought I had lost my dog.

  I peeked inside the large sized kennel and there he was: curled up like a fox, with his beautiful, bushy tail curled over his nose. I lost it. I ordered him out of the kennel and scooped that confused dog up into a bear hug. Bless his heart, he was good enough to simply sit still and gently thump his tail on the floor while I cried, scolded, and rocked him. "Gyp! You just about gave me a heart attack!! Shame on you for freaking me out like that, you gorgeous, perfect boy!!" I eventually let him go and he hung out with me for awhile longer, shadowing me through the house before he went back to his kennel on his own accord. I guess he's decided that it's a good place to be now.

  I closed his kennel door and said goodnight. And now I'm here, writing this all down when I should probably be sleeping too. Gyp's my shadow; he's rarely far from me and we're getting to the point where a mere look or head nod is communication enough for the two of us. A girl's gotta' have a good dog. And this girl done found herself one...

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Penelope T. said...

I was more than a little worried when I saw the title to this post. I'm glad to hear Gyp was just being his goofy self. I love a happy ending!

Oh, and that picture of Gyp is gorgeous!

gz said...

My Pirate says it sounded like his "Rocky", the Urban Guerilla..underground at the slightest chance, then turning up when you'd just about given up with a look on his face that said..."there you go, I've done it again, what were you worried about?"!! He was a Patterdale terrier from the Lake District/Cumbria, England

Little Homestead In Boise said...

Alls well, that ends well...

Lindsey said...

Such a handsome boy!

I hear ya on the "a girl's gotta have a good dog" thing. I was never really a dog person, but my Mindy has changed that. She's such a good, smart, loyal pup and I love her so.

Illinois Lori said...

Whew, I love the happy ending! Cougars are why Bryan never wanted to go west for his farmland, though we saw many a pretty-price-point in Oregon. He's terrified of those things, with good reason. You are wise to be afraid of them, and very wary! So glad Gyp is alright!