We all have those dreams that come back to haunt us–the dream about running, the one about the haunted house, that nightmare about missing the first day of work/school–and we have daytime fears that make us crazy. One of mine is losing Izzy.
Izzy has never learned how to come when called. Even in the house, if I ask him to come so he can get a treat or his supper or a ball, he’ll come just-so-close, then stand out of reach, ignoring me by turning his head from side to side, as if when he doesn’t look at me, it negates my need to have him come right up to me. Outside, it’s worse. Occasionally, I will let him off the leash to play with his friend Ellie, but that stopped when he took off after a groundhog one day and it took me almost fifteen minutes to catch up with him and get him to come to me so I could click his leash back on. When he was younger, he would see one of his dog friends across the street and immediately lunge, trying to run across the street. If I didn’t have a good hold on his leash, he would get away from me. And there have been a few times he’s dashed out of the house, across the street without looking, disappearing into a neighbor’s yard.
Yup, losing Izzy is one of my fears.
Years ago, I actually did lose a dog. My German Shepherd, Jessie, was 18 at the time and well trained. She would come and sit/stay at my heels until I told her to leave. We had gone to obedience school with police dogs, so she knew all of the tricks and was smart enough to pay attention. I can honestly say she was the best trained dog I’ve ever had — and the best trained dog I’ve met. Izzy, on the other hand, is not and never will be. The day Jessie disappeared, we had just moved from Vermont to Florida. We had spent three days unpacking and were ready for a break, so my husband and I took the afternoon off and went to the beach. As it does every day during the summer, a thunderstorm rolled in around 3, and we headed home. When we arrived, the garage door was open and our Mastiff, Joshua, was lying in the garage, staying cool, but Jessie was nowhere in sight.
For weeks, we went everywhere looking for her, posted signs on telephone poles, visited every animal shelter within a twenty-mile radius. Finally, we figured that Jessie was on her way back to Vermont since she really didn’t know her way around Florida. She had lost most of her hearing, making it difficult for us to walk the neighborhoods calling her. How could she hear us?
One night, we took Josh out and walked a different route around the neighborhood, letting him do his “boy thing,” urinating on every pole and bush we passed. Josh wasn’t much of a walker. If we took him out with Jessie, she led the way and he plodded along behind. Lazy was a good way to describe him. He’d much rather mope around the backyard than go out on the leash. But we thought that Jessie’s olfactory sense was still in good shape. Might as well see if it would bring her home.
The next morning my husband went to the front door because he heard a noise. He cried out Jessie’s name, which I thought was a cruel way of teasing me, but he wasn’t teasing. There she was: bloody paws, ribs showing, but her tail wagging as if proud of herself that she had found us.
She was never the same after that and we lost her about six months later, but she had found her way home.
I told that story to the woman who trained Izzy when she lost one of her Huskies over the weekend. Postings on Facebook were almost frantic. She formed a search party to comb Duke Forest in Durham where the dog had last been seen. I told her to take her other Huskies out in the neighborhood, walk each of them in a different direction, then go home to wait.
The good news is that Winter, the Husky, came home Sunday morning, greeting his pack early in the morning, bringing them all to full howls that woke up the neighborhood. He had found his own way home.
I only hope that if Izzy ever gets away from me, he won’t make my nightmare a reality. I hope that he can find his way home, too.