200th post on Ava’s Tree.
If I were a sitcom I would get a special episode. There would be cake and a banner on the bottom of the screen shouting “200th episode.”
About as exciting as my evening gets, writing this post, is the bowl of Candy Cane ice cream that is slowly melting beside me. Christmas and I still have a very tenuous relationship, however, Candy Cane Ice cream and I have always remained friends.
We have settled into the rental just fine after a few weeks. The one member of our little pack that has struggled is Charles.
Charlie is a hound dog. A hound dog that is used to a fully fenced yard and a bigger home to roam in. A hound dog that likes long walks and is very sensitive to chaos and energy. He is our family’s barometer in so many ways. If we are off so is Charlie.
Imagine my surprise of how well Charlie dealt with our grief. He clung to us and seemed to understand the energy and what we needed.
But Charlie is getting older. He slipped a disc before Lillian was born and his fragility has been evident ever since. His paw licking is …constant. His nervous energy is higher. Ear itching, chin scratching and generally unsettled. Walks aren’t sorting it, diet changes are not the answer, we even switched vets and got yet another opinion about our ever increasingly neurotic Beag. We have tried meds and supplements. We don’t have an answer yet.
And Charlie and the rental, sigh, it isn’t working.
Yesterday he ran away. Yesterday we lost him. Big time.
We have lost him before, for maybe half an hour up North at the cottage. He managed to get a few cottages down and we found him quickly. This was different. Last night we lost him for hours. So many hours I cannot tell you how long for sure.
I know he was there at 4:30pm when I took the trash out. He was sitting on the couch and watching Lillian play in front of him. I remember seeing his face. That is the last time I remembered seeing him. Matt got home around 5:00pm and I made dinner. At 6:00pm Matt turned to me and asked
“Where is Charlie?”
On the sofa. I replied. I was busy cleaning up Lillian and simply responded where I had last seen him.
“He isn’t there”
15 mins of frantically searching the house (we are in a duplex so we searched both halves) …no Charlie.
He was gone for at least an hour and we had no idea. I hang my head in shame. He was gone for an hour and I did not know. How did I not notice? I am his Mama! We still have no idea how he got out. Maybe he crept out the door when Matt came home and we were distracted? I simply do not know.
With Lillian home I could not go searching with Matthew. She went to bed, Matt started searching on foot and then by car and I hit social media. We live in a small town and know enough people, maybe if enough people knew they could help. Matt returned at 7:30 pm pretty defeated, red eyed and sad. It was pitch dark, cold. You could barely see anything. Three hours from the last time anyone saw him, in Beagle-land he could be miles and miles away by now. I was picturing him cold, hungry and confused. My heart fell. I failed him. I worked so hard to improve his quality of life, I tried so hard, I called doctors and tried remedies and in the end I could not protect him from himself.
In that moment, I thought he was gone forever. I felt hollow. Lillian would never remember Charlie. She has grown so close with him lately, sure she would notice his absence but soon he would be forgotten by her. We have already lost one member of our family but this one was on me, on us. We failed him.
Matt left again. He couldn’t sit still. He was restless. I know better than try and stop him.
10 mins later he came running in the door gasping for breath. With a piece of paper in his hand he kept saying “They have him! Call! Someone found him!”
And 10 mins after that I had the silly Beagle back home again. A nice couple had seen Charlie running out in front of the corner variety store not far from our place. He ran away from them straight into traffic. He was then caught and taken home with them and they left their contact information at the variety store. By the time I had him they had fed him dinner and he had shown them all of his tricks. They thought he was the best dog in the world, they didn’t see his constant paw licking and increasing neurosis. They saw a sweet dog who needed to find his home again. They were gracious and kind. And he licked my chin when I picked him up, like maybe I wasn’t the worst Dog -Mama ever.
Maybe that is a lesson for me too.