Not much has changed at the Chez Nelson Resort and Spa for Pampered Pets while this blog was on extended leave. The dogs, Coral, Stormy and Melissa Moo, still adoably attack me everyday when I come home; Thai is still a cat so all he does is complain when I come home. For the most part we’ve had a quiet few months.
For the most part.
However, one night in early November — when the air was particularly cold and the sky was particularly dark — we had our first non-daytime dog escape.
The few times that our dogs have slipped out of the yard have always been in the bright light of day, which makes it much easier to spot a wayward pooch.
This particular night my husband and I had gone out to dinner. As we were leaving the restaurant, our adult daughter — who, along with her cat, India, is living with us again — called to say that our front door had blown open and Stormy and Coral — our two gray dogs — had wandered away. The cats and Melissa — our dog with the naturally reflective white spots on her coat — apparently decided against venturing out.
We now call Melissa Moo our smart dog.
We rushed home as fast as we could, hoping that the dogs had not wandered far and that our daughter would locate them by the time we got back to the house.
No such luck.
My husband and I, armed with small flashlights, took off in seperate cars, windows rolled down, calling out their names in the moonless night. It was like searching for two charcoal-colored needles in a stack of black hay.
We disturbed plenty of neighbors with our yelling, and were lucky enough to recruit a few to help us look for our lost pair. It took me about an hour to find Coral by catching the glow of her eyes with my tiny flashlight. I was delighted to have found her. I was heartbroken that Stormy wasn’t with her.
Coral was tired and shivering, yet she refused to budge out of the unfenced yard where I found her — and where the homeowner was losing patience with my prowling his property. I had to call Phil to pick her up and put her in the back of his SUV.
We spent another hour of scouring our unlit streets and I would have traded almost all of my earthly possessions for a pair of night vision goggles that night.
At this point Phil and I had to ask ourselves how long were we willing to comb the miles of dark, winding cul-de-sacs in our Bonsack ‘hood in near-freezing temperatures looking for our lost dog.
The answer, of course, was all night and into the next day if necessary. We weren’t leaving our dog behind.
Shortly into hour three of our search-and-rescue operation, and about two miles from our house, Phil called Stormy’s name and finally heard his terrier toenails tapping along the pavement. Without so much as a wimper, Stormy hopped right into the backseat of the car, ready to go home.
Relieved to have both of our dogs back, we then spent another half hour contacting all the volunteers who were helping us hunt them down. To all of them, some I know and some I don’t, you have my heartfelt thanks.
And as for our canines, Coral and Melissa are now sporting reflective collars to make them easier to spot in the dark. We are still looking for one that will fit around Stormy’s tree-trunk-like neck.
And our front door? I am now obsessed with making sure it’s locked at all times.