How to Find a Lost Dog
May 3, 2012 22 Comments
Nothing seemed strange at first when we walked into our house on the day we lost our dog. We were so caught up in the bustle of arriving home, throwing down backpacks and getting snacks, we didn’t notice the lack of a huge black dog greeting us eagerly at the door. I’m in the middle of worrying about what I will make for dinner and if we have hamburger for Hamburger Helper when my son looks around and says two words that make my heart sink, “Where’s Harley?” That is when the eerie silence of the house pressed in. Where IS Harley?
We called, she didn’t come. “Maybe she is outside,” I say. I’m doubtful, but trying to stay calm. Then, we saw it. The gate hanging wide open. We call her name again. She doesn’t come. That is when it happened. The worst sound I have ever heard, my son’s heart-broken ragged sobs. “She’s gone!” he says through his tears. “She is never coming back.” Then, he yells for her, his voice broken with his sobs and shrill in its desperation, “Haaarleey! Haaarleey come baaack!”
We decide to go looking for Harley. I’m not sure if we will really find Harley, but I have to do something to distract my child from his ragged sobs. We are not going to be making Hamburger Helper tonight. I should also mention that by now it is dark out, pitch black actually.
Since are looking for a black dog in the black of night, obviously we will be needing flashlights. It turns out that in our house, we have a good number of flashlights: over twenty of them in all variations of brightness and size. There are maglites, lights with headbands, tiny flashlights, and big heavy industrial flashlights with huge bulbs. Unfortunately the battery to flashlight ratio in our house needs some work. After flipping at least eighteen dead switches on flashlights in frustration, we finally find two that seem operational and we are on our way.
We begin our search in a wooded field near our home where we take Harley to play sometimes. In the daytime, the field looks charming. In the darkness of night, it looks like a very likely place for chainsaw murderers to hang out. My son moves undaunted into the dark field shadowed with trees and lurking chainsaw murderers yelling, “Haaarleey! Haaarleey, come!” Luckily, none of the chainsaw murders seemed to named Harley because they weren’t rushing out at us with the chainsaws. We decide a better way to find our dog would be to cross a busy highway and walk through a ditch.
As we are making progress through the ditch, we notice people are playing some sort of strange game behind a church. The parking lot is lit in pools of unnatural brightness from floodlights. Teens and children are gathered in groups for the activity while parents lurk at the edges of light looking distracted and bored. “Let’s ask them if they have seen our dog!” says my son. I’m thinking they look like they are about to get us into whatever cult activity they are doing and make us drink kool-aid. “You go ahead,” I tell him. So he walks right up to the bored looking grownups, who don’t even bother to look around for a dog before shaking their heads. Luckily, his question doesn’t seem to even break their listless gaze as they go back to being distracted from whatever activity is going on around them. He walks back looking defeated.
Since the woods, and the ditch and the church have produced nothing, we decide to head back home. We cross a busy highway and walk along the sidewalk towards our house. The sidewalk seems too civilized a way to find a dog, but at this point we are out of options. Then, I notice teenage boys up ahead in jeans and wife-beater t-shirts dribbling a basketball. I want to cross to the other side of the street because obviously teenage boys walking on a sidewalk late at night in wife-beater t-shirts dribbling a basketball are gang rapers. However, against my better judgement, my son goes right up to the gang rapers and asks if they have seen our dog.
Then, the most amazing thing happened… The gang rapers are surprisingly helpful. “Yeah, we just saw your dog! She just crossed the street a few blocks up over there,” says one of the gang rapers as he points to the general direction of our house. “She almost got hit by a car,” another of the gang rapers adds with some concern. My son and I look at each other, yelling in unison, “She’s headed home!” We thank the gang rapers and immediately begin a sprint back to the house.
We arrive at the front door out of breath, but no sign of dog. After a brief sweep of the area, Harley walks casually up to meet us at the front door. She doesn’t even acknowledge anything is amiss, looking at us nonchalantly as my son gives her an immense hug. We all go inside where he rewards the wayward dog for exposing us to cults, gang rapings, and chainsaw massacres by giving her handfuls of treats and dog biscuits. I suppose the moral of this story is that flashlights are no good without corresponding batteries. And also, sometimes you think you are about to be gang raped when someone just wants to help you find your dog.