Monday, August 02, 2010


Bad Floyd:
What was supposed to be a relaxing, mellow late-night walk turned into an anxiety-ridden, harrowing 9 mile rescue search. Friday night, Greg and I decide to go for a night walk with the dogs. We trekked along a dirt path in one of the plowed fields behind the house, illuminated only by moonlight. About halfway out and 3 miles from home, Floyd disappeared. One minute he was there, and the next, POOF! Gone.

We speculated on the rationale for his absconding into darkness without warning. What was going through his little head? Did he get spooked? Took one path, and we took the other? Chased a rabbit until we got separated? Or did he simply get bored of the walk and decide on his own to take off? In the end, it was just Greg, Travis, and me, searching endlessly for someone who was no longer there.

Amazingly, Travis, usually quite mischievous about coming when called, came straight away in response to my whistling. He actually seemed somewhat worried. He put his head into the leash as if to say, "Okay. I'm done with this game. Let's go home." I gave him some water and lots of pats.

We walked back and forth in search of Floyd. Traversed the path to the point where we had seen him last. Went to each fork in the road. We went back and forth like that for awhile until we were quite disoriented. Luckily, I noticed that whenever we turned down one path, Travis surged ahead. When we went down the other, Travis obediently followed but more sluggishly at our heels. Hmmm. Let's go down the one where Travis pulls ahead. Just like horses, dogs seem to have an incredible honing instinct for sensing direction of home. We decided to let Travis lead us home and prayed that Floyd would be there waiting for us.

When we got a call from my housemate, we were both instantly relieved. He confirmed our suspicions: Floyd had been waiting on the front porch when he had come home from the pub. Little bastard had gotten tired of our wanderings and taken upon himself to steal away silently and go home. We took our time walking home after that, knowing Floyd was safe and sound. I stood for several minutes, gaping in awe, when we passed directly underneath a giant, great-horned owl, swiveling his head this way and that, in search of prey.

Bad Travis:
We went for a run Sunday evening. We waited until the sun was setting and the temps had cooled off. As the shadows grew long, we took the dogs off leash and set off on a familiar trail, aiming for 3-4 easy miles. The dogs were always better at staying with us when we were running; I had no doubt we would run together as a pack.

The dogs darted in and out of the bushes, stirring up critters and cavorted in the fields. They seemed so happy. About 2 miles out, Travis darted into some thick shrubs alongside a narrow creek. Oh, Travis, I thought. I whistled and waited for him to come out. I heard jingling and rustling. He was taking his time. I ran up ahead and whistled again. He never failed to follow. Except for today. Several minutes elapsed. I whistled repeatedly. I doubled-back on the path, whistling. When I returned to where I had last seen him, only 50 feet back, I was met with nothing but silence and a family of red-tailed hawks, excitedly flitting about in the trees as the field mice skittered about below. A horrible sinking feeling tore through my chest. Travis was gone.

I had no doubt what had gone through Travis' head. It was dusk, when the rabbits, his most favorite thing to chase in the world, were most active. He had seen rabbits! and taken chase. Now he was gone and completely disinterested in returning. I was pissed. Greg, Floyd and I ran along the trails snaking through the fields and creek in a futile search for Travis. Travis had no interest in listening to our calls and whistles. Darkness was only minutes away from encompassing the land, and I knew it would be pointless to search for him after the sun set.

Frustrated, I took Floyd and set off for home. Greg refused to surrender. He set back out at a mad sprint to find Travis. I scoffed, thinking it was impossible. It was a long walk/run home. I was relieved to be in the company of Floyd. In my head, I was already putting together the "Missing Dog" fliers, thinking of the best places to hang them, and calling the local shelters. By the time I got home, I was shaking and almost in tears.

Just a mere 5 minutes later, Greg burst through the front door with an exhausted, panting Travis at his heels. I stared in disbelief, overcome with conflicting yet simultaneous emotions of immense relief and fury. I took Travis out back to check him for wounds and hose him down to cool him off. He's a bit tired but doesn't have a scratch on him.

Needless to say, it will be awhile before these guys go off leash again!


Grey Beard said...

Back to men? :-O~

Southern Cernock said...

oh no! im glad you found them though. so i have just begun training my dog to run with me. i took him out for the first time yesterday, i have to admit, he didn't do so hot. we're definitely going to be taking it slow!

Renee said...

I would love to let my dog off the leash, but this reminds me why I don't! I hate that sinking feeling when you realize they gone. I am so glad it worked out ok!