I got up yesterday morning at 5:20 to take the dogs out and then go for a walk. They can't go further than 1/2 mile or so when it's hot out, so they don't go on long walks in the summer. We went out in the backyard without leashes. We do not have a fenced in yard. I know there will be some people reading this who will want to scold me for not putting them on leash, I understand that. We have a small backyard and the dogs know where they are and are not allowed to go very well. I was outside with them watching them find their spots to do their business. I was standing by Clover, waiting for her to go when I saw Thumper rolling in what I figured was deer poop. I went over to get her out of that and when I turned around, I couldn't see Clover. I figured she was behind a couple of bushes that hide the neighbors fence from our backyard. I checked and she wasn't there.
I called to her and didn't hear her collar jingling.
I grabbed Thumper and carried her with me while I called into the woods and then went out to the front of the house. I looked around frantically up and down the street, hoping she hadn't gone out that way.
I ran back into the house, dropped off Thumper and grabbed her metal bowl and some food. I ran back outside and shook her food around, hoping Clover would hear it and come running for breakfast. Nothing.
I didn't want to tell my husband. Clover has his heart. I ran into the house again to put on a long sleeved shirt and a hat so I could go into the woods. I ran through the woods, tearing through spiderwebs and who knows what other creepy things as I looked and called for my dog. I stopped here and there just to listen. I heard nothing.
I ran back into the house, sobbing. Hops was in the bathroom. He asked if everything was OK. I sucked it up and said, "No, I need a flashlight. I lost Clover." He came out, got me a flashlight and got dressed. We both started searching. He went into the woods, I went down the street on our normal path.
Still nothing. Absolutely no sign of our dog.
I carried my phone with me because my number is on her collar. As I was jogging down the street, I downloaded a dog whistle app. No response to that.
The thoughts that went through my head in the time we were searching for her:
An animal came out of the woods and got her.
She ran into the street and was going to get hit.
She ran into the woods because she's sick and needed to get away from her family to die.
She was never going to be found and we would forever wonder where she went off to.
We would find her on the side of the road.
I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry.
I walked back to the back of the house and halfway to my husband, my phone rang.
He heard it. He stopped.
I answered the phone in tears because I didn't recognize the number and it's only 6:20am. "Is this Clover Hopkins' Mom?" Yes, it's me. (Please let her be ok, please let her be ok, please let her be ok) "We found your little girl. She's safe and sound in our house. She had breakfast...she enjoyed our dog's food. She's fine."
Oh My God.
I looked at Hops. She is OK.
The woman on the phone asked if we would like them to bring her to us. I said no, we would come right up and get her. We got her address and headed over to her house. If Clover walked the streets, she walked 1/2 mile or more. That's a long walk in an hour for this little dog on her own. How in the world did she end up out there??
We figure she could have taken a bunch of routes, but there are two marked areas that we think she might have followed. It took her an hour to get where she ended up and it normally takes us about 10 minutes to get there, walking. Where was she this whole time??
In the map below, the green areas are where we know she went. The red and blue areas are roads she could have taken.
X marks the spot where she was found.
I went in and met with our neighbors. Chuck had found Clover while he was walking his dog. Thank you, Chuck. Thank you for walking your dog at that exact time this morning. Clover was apparently on her way out of the neighborhood, onto a busy street. Gulp. Chuck saw Clover and said, "Hello." (That made me laugh) Clover, being the friendly, people loving dog she is, ran over to him and said hello back. Chuck picked her up and carried her back to his house.
Of course Chuck and Nancy asked how Clover got loose. I told them. I could feel the "you are a bad pet parent" vibes radiating off them even though they didn't say it out loud. I thanked them, consistently, the whole time I was in their home. They were very kind about the whole thing.
I clipped on her leash and we headed back outside to Hops and Thumper (the whole family went to pick up the runaway). Thank you, Good Samaritan. Thank you, thank you, thank you. You'll be getting some cookies and a big fat hug from me next time I see you. Hope you don't mind.
Our dogs both have collars that have their first and last names, our address and my cell phone number on them. They are also both micro-chipped. If their collars were to break/fall off/whatever, there is always the microchip if the person who finds them is smart enough to take them to a vet/SPCA. I would suggest doing all of these things if you own a dog or cat. They come in handy.
Guess what, Clover and Thumper? No more no leash time for you. Deep breath in, deep breath out. We've been researching fences in the past 24 hours. We do know just how lucky we were and we won't be taking a chance like that again. We'd like to keep this silly face around a bit longer.