Last night Sophie went missing. I won't say she was lost, because she knew precisely where she was. It had been pouring rain and hail all day long and she really needed to get out for a minute now that the rain had let up. My son was packing his truck for the trip back to college and had left the side gate open. Not realizing this, I let Sophie out the back door into the yard. It was dark. She slipped past Ahren out the open gate and away she went.
I realized she was gone within five minutes, but it was too late. She was out there somewhere in the night and could be in real danger if we didn't find her. Her typical pattern, if she manages to escape the house is to meander down the usual route I take when we go for a walk. Then, when we get to the end of the street, she heads for the hills up a walking path. The last time she did this it was daylight, and I could see her way up the hill dashing around delightedly, diving into bushes to scare out all the birds nesting there. She finally came to me, thank goodness.
Finding her in the daytime is one thing, finding her in pitch blackness was another. Besides, we weren't even sure if she had headed up into the hills. Ahren got in his truck and drove around the neighborhood, a container of treats at his side. I walked up and down the sidewalk calling "Sophie! Sophie!! We searched like this for an hour, the skies overhead threatening to let loose another downpour such as we had had all day long.
By 9:00, I decided to go back home and sit by the phone in case someone found her and called me. She was wearing her tags, so that was good. I sat in silence imagining her hit by a car, kidnapped by gang members and being bait for pit bulls, or worse. And then there is the coyote issue. I hear those animals howling at night up in the hills. If she had ventured way out there into coyote territory it could be all over. My boss just lost her cat to coyotes last week.
At 9:30 I phoned Ahren and told him to come back home. He had been out searching for her for going on two hours. If she was going to come home when she got wet and hungry she would. If a neighbor was out walking their dog before bedtime, there was a good chance she might join up with them and be rescued.
About ten minutes later I heard Ahren come in the door. "Mom! Mom! Guess who I found!!" She was soaking wet, muddy from head to toe, but home.
She had gone up into the hills all right, and Ahren had hiked nearly a half mile before she barked in response to him calling her name. He ended up giving her nearly the entire container of treats he was so relieved to have found her. And guess what? When I took her collar off to put her in the tub to wash off the mud, her identification tag was missing.
If she had been picked up there is no way anyone would know where she lived or who to call. Two lessons learned here last night. The first one is obvious--make sure the dog can't escape the yard. The second? Check your dog's collar often to be sure the ID tags are still on!