Wednesday, September 17, 2008

No Margin -- What a Day!

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.

No response.


Dead silence.

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)


Jamie said...

Oh MY! I know exactly what that is like. I have had a few doggies escape under ground for a romp in the township land or farmers field and the imagination goes to the worst possible outcome quick. Glad they are safe and sound and hope you can get some rest!

JuliaR said...

I don't think "nerve wracking" covers this one. What a story! I am SO relieved it had a happy ending. But that is a good lesson for all of us, about emotional margins. We only have so much energy and when it is all focussed on one thing, you just don't have it for other things. It pays to pay attention so you know when you might become over-drawn at the energy bank! Thanks for the lesson.

Anonymous said...

Dear Lord,
Thank you for protecting the girls and giving us a happy ending to such a scary ordeal.

Thank you for Joan and the wisdom/insight you have gifted her with -- that despite such an exhaustive, emotional day, she is still able to articulate a lesson that we all need reminding about.

In your mercy and grace, please give Joan complete and peaceful rest/sleep when she is able to grab those precious minutes. Give her 'energizer bunny' moments when she needs them most.

Bless the upcoming birth of Elsie and her new pups.


Susie said...

I am so excited about the pups that I could burst Joan... your wonderful updates are the next best thing to being there!!!
I am guessing that your next post will be to tell us that the whelping has begun... If i were a betting woman, I would say you are gonna be seeing more that 6 pups!
Rest when you can and keep us posted :)
susie in Birmingham

Susie said...

Oh yes.. .and AMEN to that prayer that was posted by Anonymous! I will be echoing it through the night :)


Cheryl said...

Oh Joan that is just HORRIBLE, when that happens!! I know exactly how you feel. Things can happen, no matter how careful you are. I'm glad everything worked out o.k. I think you need to make you a nice cup of camomille tea. Hope you're feeling better!