The dogs ran away yesterday morning. Probably chasing a deer, or possibly a flock of geese (the geese are starting to come back, now), but regardless, they took off.
Our neighbour to the south, the one who is a little odd, called in the afternoon to tell Hubby that he’d seen them at the end of his driveway that morning. Given that he’s terrified by the mastiff, Cherry, I’m shocked that he did not immediately call to demand that we do something; as it was, his less-than-timely call meant that we had no idea that the dogs were even missing until enough time had elapsed that they could be anywhere.
When I got home from work, Hubby broke the news – Fox and Cherry were gone. Poppy the puppy had actually stuck around the yard, which is pretty amazing, but the other two were AWOL. We got back in the car and drove up and down all the grid roads within several miles of our place, hollering out the rolled-down windows, but to no avail. We consoled ourselves by saying that they’d probably show up at the house by dark, but they didn’t.
We didn’t get a lot of sleep last night.
This morning, our helpful neighbour called to tell us they’d been spotted a mile south and one east from their place…at suppertime the night before. Helpful. However, he did spend an hour giving me the names, phone numbers, and approximate locations of every neighbour within a five mile radius, so that we could start calling around. Instead, we got in the car and did another little tour of the neighbourhood, starting from where the dogs had last been seen.
Driving up the road, we saw a yellow dog – we sped up to catch it, only to find another neighbour walking her retriever. We explained our situation, and she was sympathetic, but had not seen our strays. Back on the road we went, stopping every mile or so to holler both dogs’ names. We went as far as we thought the dogs were likely to have roamed, but turned around to drive home, empty handed.
Then a truck came barreling out of a laneway, flashing its lights. We stopped to talk to the driver, who asked us if we were looking for a couple of dogs. Upon hearing that, indeed, we were, he told us that they’d been spotted just up the road, but we needed to hurry and catch them, as they had been near a herd of cows just about to calve, and the farmer who owned the cattle was as like as not to shoot them if they harassed the cows at all. He also mentioned that they had gone into at least one yard, and scared the owner enough that they just about got shot then and there.
The fellow told us he’d help us find them, and waved us into his yard. He turned to Hubby and asked if he’d ever ridden a quad before; Hubby had not. Buddy kind of laughed and said it was easy.
Well, Hubby learned quick. He and the kind neighbour were out on the quads for about three hours, driving through muddy fields and snow, looking for tracks, and stopping at all of the neighbours’ houses to see if anyone had seen the wayward mutts. Lots of folks had seen them…and chased them out of their yards. Nobody had thought to grab them and check their collars for a phone number; I guess that’s just not done here, or maybe they were just too intimidating. Quite a way to meet the neighbours – having to apologize for our dogs scaring them or harassing their livestock…not exactly the way to make a good name for yourself!
By suppertime, the dogs still hadn’t turned up, and the guys had to give up. I followed them up the road in the car, back to the kind neighbour’s house. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw movement at the top of a hill, maybe a quarter or half a mile off the road. I pulled over, hoping…
…And sure enough, there was Cherry. Barking. But not coming towards me at all, despite my calling, pleading, and offering treats. Dumb dog made me slog through a quarter mile of slightly-more-than-boot-deep snow, pregnant and puffing, to go collect her. She sure was happy to see me, though. I stood and hollered for Fox for a couple of minutes, but did not get any response, so I took Cherry back to the car and headed out to catch up with the boys. We all went back to where I’d found Cherry, and after a few minutes’ walking and calling, Fox came out of the bushes, too, though she was also pretty wary of approaching us.
Having missed supper, and spent a cold night on the loose, you can imagine how happy they are to have full bellies and a warm mat to sleep on – Cherry hasn’t moved in a few hours, not even a twitch. We’re pretty relieved, too, but sheesh, what a way to meet the neighbours…