Life sure is funny sometimes. Just a few weeks back, I had just finished a story about a guy who helps his private eye buddy find lost people. His first “find” was the school bully’s pet dog, when our hero was about 11 years old. I wrote a journal entry about it here, called Lost and Found. Mostly Found.
And in a interesting twist — if you could call it that — our own dog went missing late Saturday night.
A little setup: we were helping to host a party for our friends Holly and Tammy, who are getting married in two weeks in Massachusetts, so we gathered Mitch and Drew as well as our friends’ daughter, along with our dog Whit, over at our friends house in north Durham. Our niece Beth babysat the three kiddoes and the critter. And we went to the party.
While we were gone, Whit was whining to go outside, and he got all discombobulated (he’s 12 years old and doesn’t see so well, which is bad for a greyhound, because they’re sight hounds and rely on their vision). He wandered off, got lost in the unfamiliar surroundings, and didn’t come back. So when we got back from the party, we walked up and down the streets, calling for him, at about one in the morning. No Whit.
This is the 2nd time he’s gone missing — the first time was about 10 years ago, when we’d had him for a year or so, and he’d gotten out of the car and got lost down off Capital Blvd in Raleigh, which is a crazy-busy road, six lanes wide. He spent the night in the woods nearby, until some kind soul found him — still wearing his leash and collar! — on the shoulder of the road and took him to his vet. Good thing for the chip in his back. We were reunited again, much to Elizabeth’s huge relief. She was convinced he was a goner, but I had a feeling he’d turn up, and be okay.
This time, though, I didn’t feel so confident. I walked up and down the tree-lined streets where our friends live, jangling his leash and calling for him and whistling, and got no response. I figured either he was gone, or somebody had taken him in for the night. We gave up the search and went to bed around 1:30 a.m.
And then, at about 6:30 a.m., I woke up and went out looking for him one last time. I guess I had a hunch. At the end of the driveway, I turned left, trusting my instincts, and walked down the road again, jangling his leash and whistling for Whit once more. I’d made it to the end of the road and the cul de sac at the end of the road before I just resigned myself to the fact that he was gone. I turned around, already thinking of ways to explain what happened to Drew and Mitch.
On my way up the hill back to our friends’ house, though, on the front lawn of the corner house, I spied a skinny, fawn-colored dog.
“You stupid dog,” I said, and then started calling out to him.
And Whit promptly turned and ran into the backyard.
I charged after him in my flipflops, over some stranger’s yard, and caught up to him in the backyard looking all confused. I snapped the leash to his collar and brought his shaky-legged self back up the road.
And the crazy thing was, he wasn’t even cold — the temps had been down in the 50s at night. So I think Whit made a new friend Saturday night, and they either heard me outside calling for him or they just happened to let him out of their garage or something at just the right time. I’m actually a little freaked out that I was able to find him. Not five minutes earlier, I’d given up and started thinking about what to put on his Lost Dog poster.
I knew he’d turn up eventually, but I honestly wasn’t sure if he’d be in good shape when he did. Or if he’d even be alive. Luckily, our friends live in a quiet neighborhood without much traffic, so his chances of getting hit by a car were pretty small.
Ironically, as I was walking Whit back to the house after finding (we were walking VERY slowly), we saw Elizabeth coming toward us. She was going out looking for him as well, and when she finished loving on Whit, she told him something I’d already told him — “You’re going to the doggie spa on Monday!”
So that’s where Whit the (Formerly Lost) Wonder Pup is today: getting primped and pampered at the veterinarian’s, with a toe-nail-clipping, a bath, and a teeth-cleaning as part of the deal. And we have a whole new appreciation for our elder statesman, our wise old canine, our big dog with the big heart and bad eyes. Welcome back home, old man!