Yesterday morning seemed like just another ordinary week day. I got ready for work while Greg cuddled with a very sleepy Zoey. I made lunches for everyone while Greg put Scout on the lead in our front yard. I carried the mountain of luggage I pack every day (one diaper bag, one toy bag, one bookbag and one purse) out to the Mommy-Mobile while Greg put Zoey in her car seat. Then I dropped Zoey off at my mom’s house for the day and headed towards Syracuse for my normal work day.
I was about three-quarters of the way to work when I got THE CALL. You know, one of those SOMETHING-IS-WRONG-AND-IT-CAN’T-WAIT-EVEN-THOUGH-YOU-HAVE-NO-MORE-VACATION-DAYS calls. Need I say I hate them? In this case, the call was from Greg telling me that he couldn’t find Scout and he’d been looking for almost a half hour. Apparently, when Greg had let Scout off the front lead, Scout had run through the house to the back door, nudged it open (dude, the dog can open our door when it’s almost totally closed. I don’t know how he does it because it’s a pretty heavy door) and hadn’t been seen since. My heart plummeted in my chest.
Let me back up a bit. When we first got Scout, he had a lot of puppy left in him. He was rambunctious and untrained because the family that had had him before us had planned on training him before their baby was born, but the mom ended spending most of her pregnancy in the hospital and Scout ended up spending most of his first few months penned in a family member’s kitchen. When the baby was born, the family decided he was just too untrained to have in their home. So we took him and made him part of our family. And even though he pooped in our closet the first night he spent at our house, Greg and I fell in love with him. But because I was the one to approach Greg about adopting Scout, he became my very first pet (which Greg likes to remind me of when Scout gets into something he shouldn’t).
So here’s the thing: we trained Scout to go to the bathroom outside of the house. We trained him to be a little less of a spaz and to get along with our other dogs (not so much our cat, Tilly. He still wants to eat her, which is why she lives upstairs). But because he clearly has some pit in him (and because so many people are prejudice against the breed) and because he still is a little bit of a spaz, we only let him out of the house when he’s on a lead. He has tons of room to run on the lead (and trust me, we spend most of every day putting him on the lead, putting him in the house, putting him on the lead, putting him in the house. Over and over again), but he can’t be off the lead. Ever. It’s clear he doesn’t understand the danger the road right in front of our house presents. In the couple of times he’s broken his lead, he’s taken off across the road without hesitation, which always makes Greg and I gasp because let’s not forget, that’s how Brutus lost his leg. We live near Rt. 81 (not even a mile away) on one side and Rt. 281 (not even a mile away) on the other side, which is just asking for trouble.
Like I said, he’s broken his lead a couple of times in the past few years. But he’s always stayed pretty close to home–at least close enough so that when Greg and I go outside and start calling for him and promising treats, he comes running (jumping in the car usually works too because he loves a good car ride). We have always found him within ten minutes of him getting off of his lead.
Except this time. A half an hour is a very long time for Scout to be gone when he usually comes at the sound of Greg’s voice beckoning him.
I called my editor and left a message on her voicemail about what was happening and that I was going to be late. I pulled off the highway and started back for home because Greg was freaking out and he needed help looking around our neighborhood. Both of us were thinking the same thing, but neither of us wanted to say it. Then Greg texted me, “I have a bad feeling..” and I almost started crying.
Minutes ticked by as I got back on the highway headed south and sped (yes, I broke the speed limit for my pet. Shut up. He’s family) towards home. In the meantime, Greg was still driving around our little town with Brutus riding shotgun (and barking his head off) because he had refused to stay home.
I was about five minutes away from our house when I got another text from Greg.
I pulled off the highway in Tully, pulled into the Burger King parking lot and commenced having a slight panic attack. I called Greg to get details. Was Scout okay. Was everything okay? Did we need to take him to the vet? All I could think about was that horrible, horrible morning when Brutus CRAWLED home, broken and battered from his encounter with a vehicle. Greg told me Scout was fine, that he had been covered with corn husks when he had finally emerged from the huge cornfield behind our house. Greg’s pretty sure Scout went for a run in the cornfield, could hear Greg’s voice calling for him, but couldn’t find his way back out for a bit.
I calmed down a little bit, my breathing returned to normal as my mind finally was able to process that Scout was okay. He was safe at home. He hadn’t gotten hurt.
After a couple of minutes, I pulled out of the Burger King parking lot and got back on the highway to head back towards work. I was a half an hour later and I had to work through lunch to make up the time.
When I got home from work last night, Scout rushed up to me, full of sloppy doggy kisses, his tail wagging nonstop, like he was trying to tell me all about his adventure. He didn’t look the least bit ashamed, even though he KNOWS he isn’t supposed to nudge the door open. To him, it was just an extra-fun day. To Greg and I, it was a miracle neither of us lost our minds from the panic and worry.
These dogs. They drive us crazy with their shenanigans.
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