Elsie is still hanging out; she's been sleeping now for about four hours (getting ready for a long night, I suppose). No worries there.
That's just as well. I've had other things to deal with.
Around lunchtime, when DH called to check in, I'd just rotated the canine crew so that Pinot, Kenya, and Tuc were romping outside in our delightfully cool, low-humidity weather, Ridge was in the kennel room, and Elsie was roaming around inside doing her restless pacing. I talked with DH for about 10 minutes or so for our normal lunchtime check-in, then went to let the younger crew in from outside so Elsie could go out.
Lo and behold, only puppy Tuc was at the door.
Kenya and Pinot were gone. Vamoose. Absent. No sign of them anywhere, and all the gates were closed and all the fencing in tact.
Where were they?
I brought happy, wiggly Tuc in, crated him and Ridge, then started calling for Kenya and Pinot. I yelled. I hollared. I whistled. I pulled out DH's training whistle and blew away.
No sign, no sound of either of the girls. Zip. Zero. Nada.
I put Elsie back inside, rechecked inside the house, then walked the fence line, hiked the back hill, and checked the road out front as well as our front and side yards all the while calling for Pinot and Kenya.
I checked on the neighbors' houses: Hazel, our one neighbors Rotty, was still lazing in the sun where she was chained in their backyard. The girls weren't playing with Hazel.
My next neighbor down was working in her garden with her standard poodle hanging out with her. They weren't playing with poodle Bailey.
My other neighbor on the other side was out working on his yard. And the girls, who just love all the people neighbors, were no where to be seen.
Now I was worried. Really worried. It reminded me of how I felt one time many years ago when I briefly lost sight of one my human kids, who was just a toddler at the time, in a crowd.
Then I heard three gunshots (not common this time a year; sounded like hunters).
The knot in my stomach clenched, and I got that sick, awful dread/fear that something really terrible had happened to my girls.
And, big surprise, I had absolutely no emotional margin left to deal with it.
I called DH, and started sobbing on the phone. "Pinot and Kenya are gone. I can't leave Elsie to drive around looking for them. I don't know what to do."
Just about that time, Dear Firstborn Son shows up, takes one look at me crying on the phone, and knows something is very wrong.
So DFS stayed with Elsie while I started driving all the back dirt roads where we walk the dogs. I called my sister to see if she could come help look, sobbing again on the phone with her (barely able to choke the words out that my girls were missing). Then I drove down to the neighbor's home who abutts our property way down behind the hill. An absolute dog lover, he offered to send his son out looking and told me I was welcome to trudge all over his property to look for Elsie and Kenya.
Then I started driving some more just to see if I could hear or see them. I heard sirens, and immediately thought the dogs, if they hadn't been shot by the gunshots I heard earlier, had been hit by a car and caused an accident. More tears.
I started praying, and calmed down a bit.
Then DFS called. The whole time I was out driving, he stood out on the deck where he could still keep an eye on Elsie while calling for Kenya and Pinot. And call away he did.
And don't you know, our two sweet Labbie girls came barreling back from about four houses down the road (go figure).
Kenya and Pinot were home, he told me. So I could come home, too.
I, of course, called DH and my sister to let them know. My relief was palpable. So was the increase in my sanity.
But now I'm completely wiped out.
You've got to understand somethine here: I'm the one who keeps my cool in crisis. I can handle blood and broken bones and seizures and conflict and all kinds of emergencies, and I stay clear-headed and calm the whole time. I don't fall apart. I just don't.
Yet, the thought of losing Pinot and Kenya (I imagined them stolen, or shot, or injured... my imagination had all kinds of things happening to them -- their silence in response to my calls was just awful), was enough to put me over the edge. And once I started crying, I couldn't reign it in.
Poor DFS never sees me cry; I think I rattled him. And poor DH felt so helpless.
And now, I'm just plain ol' wiped out.
And Elsie is sleeping, completely oblivious to the stress, and the girls, along with Ridge and Tuc are crated now so I can grab a nap.
So what happened? How'd they disappear? After their return, I walked the fenceline again and found that Kenya and Pinot had dug beneath the fence along the back stretch of fencing beneath the walnut trees. The gates were fine; the fence was in tact; they just dug their way beneath.
Oh my; we have another new issue to deal with: escaping the back yard. We'll have to work on this one when DH get home.
In the meantime, I'm still here watching my slumbering momma, and so grateful all the other kids are fine (human and canine alike, truth be told).
But it's a lesson for me in margin. Life has been so crazy for so long, I just don't have the same emotional stamina I once did. I don't have the wiggle room for crisis. I think I may have to think about doing something to guard my emotional health these days.
But we have to get through puppies first. :o)
Puppies! :o) They may be all the therapy I need!
I'll let you know when Elsie's close.
'Til next time,
Joan (who still has the knot in her stomach, but is recovering from her dreadful scare)