Last week just before dark, as is our custom, I let Emma the Golden Retriever out to “go.” It was a beautiful evening so I left the door open for her to come back in.
Since I’ve let the west side of my property grow up into trees, I can’t see exactly where she goes, but I heard her moving around as usual.
I also heard a group of young guys on the road next to my little woods, but thought nothing of it at the time.
When she hadn’t come back in about 10 minutes, I called her. Nothing. Absolute stillness.
I knew then in my gut that she was gone. And I knew the guys – who had sounded enthusiastic about something – had seen her at the edge of the woods where they were and thought they’d take home a “free” hunting dog.
Beautiful Golden Retriever, clearly well-fed and cared-for, happy, friendly, must be a stray, right?
True, she wasn’t wearing her collar because she doesn’t like it and she was getting ready to go to bed; and she was on my/her own property.
It’s hard to get a collar for Goldens since they have extra folds of skin below their muzzles so predators or other dogs can’t grab their windpipe in a fight; for a collar on her not to slip off, the collar has to be a bit too tight for comfort.
Once I realized she was really gone, I did the usual: called the animal control officer (aka dog catcher), neighbors, area shelters just in case someone brought her in, put a notice up in post office, etc.,
I got up during the night and just kept hoping she’d show up on the porch, but no luck. Not that night, not the next day, nor the next day, nor the next day. I got little done and was quite anxious for her welfare.
She had been gone three days when the unexpected happened.
Our supposition for why the unexpected happened is that my good friend, Deborah Aldridge of Pembroke, a Facebook user, put out a notice that Emma was missing and presumably taken by persons unknown.
She posted Emma’s dilemma on her Facebook page, and on the Facebook page used by over 3,000 Machias-area barter aficionados.
Wellsuh, in late afternoon almost three days to the hour, a shotgun blasted right by my sideyard, startling me right out of the house. Immediately a truck squealed its tires and sped down the road faster than I could see to identify it.
I ran out the front door and down the driveway to the road. Nothing there.
Then I turned sideways and there was Emma, right in the middle of the lupine patch, looking dazed. They had shot the gun to let me know she was there.
She ran over and hugged me and tried to tell me in her best, quite extensive, Golden Retriever vocalizations what had happened.
Some mud was stuck to her coat, along with bits of woody debris. I think they had had her in the woods, seeing if she would retrieve and make a good hunting dog. But the joke was on them.
Emma doesn’t retrieve anything, even thrown balls. She’s a couch potato when she isn’t playing with neighbor dogs or visitors. And she’s eleven years old, so she isn’t into all that frantic rushing about that drives young Goldens.
Now she’s being especially clingy, startling awake on her bed and looking to make sure I’m still there.
So it’s extra-special rations and lots of petting; we’ll never know exactly what happened, but Deborah thinks, and I agree, that someone on that Facebook page saw Deborah’s plea for Emma – and that person, perhaps a parent?, said to whoever had her, “Look here, Sonny, that’s not your dog and you take her back Right Now!”
And they realized they had best do just that.
Lucky me, lucky Emma. She was a little thinner and hadn’t been watered enough, and I found a couple of those tiny ticks (I check her and myself frequently) on her, but she seems fine.
She’s now been brushed clean of all debris. She’s her usual happy, friendly self; the two neighborhood stray cats are snuggling up to her as usual as she lies on the deck out back.
One lesson learned: never give up.
PS – While Emma was gone, I got a call from a pleasant, caring, Steuben woman (about 25 miles away) about another dog she thought might be Emma. That dog was a Yellow Labrador Retriever, also not wearing a collar and very friendly.
Afterwards, I called to tell her Emma was home, and she said they found that dog’s owner, too, so everyone’s home safely.
Emma will now wear her collar when she goes out into the woods, even if just to “go.”
Emma and I thank all the people who helped. Enjoy the 4th and our beautiful summer.
– Nancy Oden
Saying for this week:
Today’s mighty oak is just yesterday’s nut that held its ground.