Medford, Oregon, April 25, 2016: I guess he’s been getting restless. I’ve been lousy about taking them for walks, and running around the back yard has probably grown passe.
Of course, Daisy is getting old. She’s creaky, slow, and her back legs erratic. But Charlie, though almost as old, still has a lot of Get Up And Go. And the fact that Daisy is now mostly Got Up and Went gives him no pause. He’s a busy guy.
Today started out normal, like any day, and since I wanted to get soup for lunch at Great Harvest, I herded the dogs into the garage/backyard, and sure enough, the soup was swell.
When I arrived back home and parked in the driveway, behind me cars began stopping in the street, a line of them in each direction. And that was because Daisy was wandering around on Siskiyou Boulevard. Not exactly crossing the street, more like meandering this way and that in the middle. Some road workers stopped the cars while she made up her mind.
When she saw me, she came right over, and traffic resumed.
“How did you get out?” I asked, and she showed me the gate to the backyard, half open.
Uh-oh. Not in the backyard. Not up the street. Not down the way. I walked down to the little park. Nope. Not there. I got my car and went on our sometime alley walk. Nope. Not there.
Now so that you do not have to suffer as I have suffered, let me summarize the afternoon for you. From noon on, all afternoon, I have been searching for Charlie.
I drove grids in both directions, including some of the alleys along the streets near Willamette. I went up Siskiyou Boulevard to drive all through the huge and sleepy hilltop graveyard hidden behind the lovely homes.
I used the penetrating whistle on my keychain, and sent out blast after blast up the streets and down the intersections, calling him, yelling “Cholly-bolly!”
I went to the dog park twice, and re-drove the Willamette grid more widely, further afield.
I’d brought a handful of business cards, and asked all the humans along the way, as they were walking, loitering, dog-walking, or working on roads or houses as I drove past. I asked each if they’d seen a smallish dog, black white and brown, about 45 pounds, marked like a beagle, wearing a black harness. I gave them cards to call me. They said they would.
I returned to the house three times in case he’d found his way back. I posted his picture on Craigslist and PetHaven.com, and provided a lost-dog report to the Jackson County Animal Control people.
I drove some more, widening my search, up and down the hill, then walked Bear Creek park from one end to the other, where I encountered a woman walking a pinscher. She said, “Yes! I came from Garfield and he was in the middle of the road. I tried to catch him. Some other people did, too. He ran away up Barnett!” I nodded.
“How long ago?”
“Ten minutes,” she said.
I hurried back to my car, and drove to Barnett. Up and down Barnett, in both directions. Up and down. This was especially worrisome because this Garfield and Barnett intersection is a huge business, leading up to the freeway entrance. Up and down side streets. Re-traced her route the long way, then went back and got on the freeway to drive in each direction, looking for dead dog bodies.
Around 5:30 I stopped at the Panda Express, needing the calm more than the food, so ate heavy on the carbs. Because I was finally starting to come to terms with it. Quite possible I will never see him again. It is now in the hands of God. I can’t do anything to help him.
I got back in my car. I tried Barnett again, and more side streets, whistling and calling, asking more people, giving away away more cards.
I have come home. I have given up.
I opened the door. Inside, was Charlie.
“Well, hello,” I said.
It seems that, five minutes earlier, around suppertime, my roomie glanced out the kitchen window and saw Charlie walking across the yard to the front door.
Charlie is very tired. He was barely able to rouse himself to eat his dinner.
His black harness has been lost, left behind somewhere along his travels. Oh, what a tale it could tell, could it but tell the tale.
I think the footloose and fancy-free life of a stray dog, wandering cold streets on tired feet and dining on scraps perhaps it does not appeal strongly to Charlie. Though he does not seem at all repentant nor remorseful for his actions.
I have removed Charlie’s wanted poster from the lost-dog sites. I cannot express my relief and gratitude. I feel like I’ve been through a wringer.
You see, I really didn’t think he’d be able to find his way home.
Maybe he’s smarter than I thought.