Thursday, January 18, 2007

Gracie's Gone!

It was dark outside, and cold, and the drops of freezing rain were just beginning to fall. It was at this particular moment that 2 of my children decided to quarrel about whether Gracie needed to come in or stay out just a little longer. Someone inserted a foot into the doorway and the dog disappeared into the night.

She didn't run, at first. Nope, she sniffed, just out of reach. The girls watched her and called her, but Gracie didn't come. (Gracie never comes when she's called. She hasn't decided to learn that yet.) They called some more, and when she still didn't come they brought in the big guns - first me, and then the humongous (heavy) emergency flashlight from the back of my van.

Since Gracie had gone to the right of the house, I went left and tried to cut her off before she could get to the stairs leading down into the back yard. Oh, she's sneaky. She didn't need the stairs, she ducked through the woods into the open space in the yard. I followed her out the treehouse where she was sniffing - you'd have thought the dog was on holiday rather than on the lam. Goodness, she dawdled! I can't even count the number of times I got close enough to grab her, and couldn't. She's fast! She'd dash away as fast as she could go and then stop to sniff out the deer path. I'd get close, and she'd dash again. After doing this several times, Morgan came down with the flashlight and I held it while she followed Gracie into the deep dark woods. We are so brave. Morgan followed her along the stream bed until we were behind the neighbor's house. It was just too far.

After going a little farther I called Morgan back and we headed back toward our house. Morgan decided to quickly walk down the road to the neighbor's house to try to cut Gracie off from that side. Now it was Morgan who was walking so fast that I couldn't keep up! Before I could follow I checked on the other kids and then went around back one more time to make sure Gracie wasn't any closer. Sure enough she was! She saw the light and came at me. Silly me, I thought (for a very quick instant!) that she was traumatized by the whole event and was coming to be taken inside for some TLC. HA! Nope, she yapped "psych!" as she scooted by me in to the front yard and around to the back of the house again.

I knew I'd never catch her because she's just too fast, so I had Caroline stand by the open front door hoping that Gracie might run inside on her next lap. That didn't happen. About this time I stopped hearing Morgan calling out Gracie's name and I started to worry about her getting lost in the woods - not that I was worried about Gracie having to spend the night in the woods. Nope, I was just chasing her because I had to. It's written somewhere that if you have kids and a dog and the dog gets out, as a mother you have to look for the dog with due diligence because otherwise your kids will never forgive you. That's what drove me to find this dog, in the freezing rain, in the dark, and in heeled shoes.

So then I started worrying about Morgan who had traipsed off into the unknown in search of this dog. But before I headed down the road, I decided to check the backyard one more time. I stopped walking, trying to hear the rustle that I'd heard earlier, hoping to get some idea of where she might be. No rustle, nothing. Nothing except the pitter patter of her nails on the deck above my head. Geez. Up the stairs I went, and as she came for me I grabbed her so fast and scooped her up. Took her inside, calling to Caroline to close the door (because she's such a good listener the door was still open and all the heat in our house was now in the front yard) and had Caroline put Gracie in her kennel. Then I went up the road to try to find my oldest. I called and called, and got no answer.

I walked down the road feeling very brave in the dark with my killer flashlight and humbled by the thought of my daughter running down there without one. Oh, she's the brave one. I called and called. After the 4th or 5th call, I heard her voice. Thank goodness.

It turns out that Morgan had gone the front door to ask permission to go into the backyard and the elderly gentleman had gone outside into the woods with her. Then, when she heard me, she couldn't come fast because she helping him back up the hill. I felt relief on so many levels.

Back at home we thawed ourselves and let Caroline serve us hot tea and popcorn. Even Will, who had been fairly oblivious of the excitement, joined us for "conbersation".

We never heard another peep from Gracie, who must have known she was lucky to be inside and warm. She is extremely fortunate to be living in a home with these 4 children who love her so much.

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