It's 10:15 on a Friday night and I'm sitting on my bed, feeling like I just barely survived the longest 3 hours of my life. It all started after dinner. We all (Doc, me, both kids, Minnie) went outside to our back alley to draw with sidewalk chalk and kill some time before dark. Wyatt was busy working on a drawing of "Wyattville," I was watching Anna draw a picture of a cat, and Doc was swinging his golf clubs. Minnie was doing what she does best: just laying there.
Doc put down his golf clubs, grabbed my glass and headed inside to refill our sangritas. He wasn't gone long, just three or four minutes maybe. He came back, handed me my glass, and casually asked, "Where's Minnie?"
"Huh?" I looked over to where she had been laying in the grass. "I don't know. She was just right there. She couldn't have gone far."
As if on cue, everyone put down their chalk/glass/whatever they were holding and looked around for our dog. She has gotten much better in her old age about not running after random people or pets as they stroll by (or maybe she's just gotten lazier) so we've been giving her a little more freedom by not keeping her on a leash when we're all outside playing. So, this wasn't the first time she'd wandered off. If you've ever seen Minnie you know that not only does she have really short legs, but she's also a bit of a waddler, so we knew she couldn't have gotten far.
We looked in all her usual places. Nothing.
We called her name inside the house just in case she snuck in behind someone. Nothing.
We looked through our side yard in the off chance that our gate had been opened and she got locked back there. Nothing.
Doc and I decided we should split up. Anna and I headed in one direction and he and Wyatt went the other. We circled our block in no time at all, but still, there was no sign of Minnie.
We split up again and expanded our search to the neighboring blocks. We checked out the parking lot of the apartments nearby. We walked to any spot we've ever taken her to for a potty break. Still nothing.
Doc gave a new set of directions. "You and Anna get in your car. Wyatt and I will get on the bikes and look around here."
So off we went in the car. Now I know my dog and know she couldn't have gotten very far, but why hadn't we found her yet? As Anna and I were driving, I let my sometimes-too-imaginative mind take over. I remembered that I had caught Minnie eating a piece of a rotten peach outside. I didn't think she had swallowed any of it before I took it away. And I also remembered that while I drew with sidewalk chalk, she stuck her nose into my fruity cocktail drink. Could those things have made her sick?
I started getting nervous. Was I looking for my very sick - or worse - dog?
Anna and I drove all over the neighborhood with no luck. When we made it back to the house we searched everywhere inside again, just in case. By this time, it was getting really dark. The boys made it back on their bikes and grabbed the head lamps. I had a flashlight and we split up again, this time leaving Anna back at the house. Where could she possibly be??
Realizing how dark and late it was getting, I finally called my parents. We needed help. As soon as the phone started ringing, I finally lost it. The tears wouldn't stop coming and it was getting really hard to breathe.
"We lost Minnie," was all I could get out to my mom.
"We'll be right there."
My parents were on their way. They always make everything better. They would definitely find my sweet Minnie.
Doc caught up with me on the corner of our block. He had sent Wyatt back to the house with Anna. The two of us, equipped with our flashlights, walked back through the alley to our house, stopping to look under and behind every bush, tree, and rock on the way.
Finally, as we were almost to our garage door, my genius husband said, "Hey, didn't [Neighbor 2 Doors Down] have his garage open earlier?"
"I don't know. I don't remember seeing it open, but I guess it could've been."
We walked up to the garage door and listened. Nothing. I knocked on the door.
"Do you think we should ask them to look in there, just to make sure?" I asked Doc.
"Sure. I'll go around to the front and knock."
So we quickly started walking around the block to the front of their house. Even though I was feeling a renewed sense of hope, I still stopped and looked behind every shrub on the way. I fell behind Doc a few feet.
I could see our neighbor open the door, but before I made it to their porch, Doc was already heading inside and closing the door behind him. I took off running back around the block to their garage.
My tears started again as I ran. What if she wasn't there? Then what? I was losing my breath.
And then, as I rounded the corner just in time to see their garage door opening and the motion detector light pop on, out stepped Doc with a wiggling ball of black fur in his arms.
I took off in a dead sprint. As I got close I could hear [Neighbor 2 Doors Down] saying something to me, but all I could focus on was getting my sweet girl in my arms!
I can't even tell you how happy I was. I was sweating and crying and kissing my baby girl and trying not to make too much of a fool out of myself in front of my neighbors. What a happy ending!
As soon as we walked in our house Doc asked if we should call my parents back.
"Oh crap. They're probably already almost here."
Sure enough, as soon as Minnie and I made it out onto the front porch, they pulled up. My dad tried to give me a hard time about it but truthfully, I think we were all just relieved Minnie was safe and sound and back where she belongs.
And then, as if the ending of the night couldn't have gotten much better, I saw this:
Wyatt had come inside and made flyers for us to post around the neighborhood. The picture is from my Christmas card a few years back, and I didn't even realize it was still on the computer that we let the kids use. And I definitely didn't know that he knew about to paste it into a document. In case the picture above is too small for you to read, the small print below "REWARD!!!" says:
Name: Mini Breed: Black Wiener Dog Address: --------------------- (smudged out by me)
How sweet is that??? Wyatt acts like he's not too fond of Minnie most days, but he still spent all evening running all over the neighborhood looking for her and then created this flyer so we could get the word out. That's when I melted.
I still have not figured out why Minnie never once barked, growled, or whimpered while she was trapped in our neighbor's garage. Even when she could hear us knocking on the door and calling her name, she never made a sound. And yet, two seconds after my parents arrive, she's back to normal barking her head off and begging for some food. Weird, huh?
I have to say, I'm really glad this night is over. I'm exhausted! Minnie is back in her bed sleeping soundly. The kids are tucked into their bunk beds. Doc is starting to snore right beside me. I think I'll be able to rest easy tonight knowing everyone in my family is exactly where they're supposed to be.