Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Finding my way without Tanner

I felt truly naked on that first morning walk without Tanner.

He had gotten out before, but always come back fairly soon. I used to chase him down, but realized he was just going on our walking route, so I decided to let him come back on his own. Often, one of the police officers (all of whom know us well because we live across the street from the station) or a neighbor would guide him home.

He just loves to run, that's all. He's a lab/hound mix and Just. Loves. To. Run. He has worn a path around the house from literally running circles around it.

The Mr. is a dog person. I've always been a cat person. So, in the natural order of things, we had cats. But I started to feel like The Mr. was being left out of his love for dogs. So I put a plan in place to surprise him with a new pet, but then decided that he really ought to be involved in the process. So we did some research and found the perfect dog. He was at a shelter not far from our house and they had named him Cheez-It. Seriously.

In the scheme of things, this was not the ideal time to get a new dog. I had just had our second child and she was barely two months old. Nonetheless, I took both kids to the shelter in the middle of winter to meet Cheez-It. He had effectively been an outside dog his entire life. I asked questions about letting him be an inside dog, how he would act around cats and the myriad of other non-dog-having-mom-related questions. Several days later (after the shelter checked our references) The Mr. brought him home.

He was amazing. He was shy and timid around The Mr., but we quickly figured that he was likely abused as a puppy (this was based partly on the fact that he was adopted from said shelter as a puppy and returned when he was just six months old, and also based on his reaction to several normal situations he observed). He followed me around everywhere. He wanted to be in the room I was in, even if it was just for a matter of seconds. We started to joke that clearly, Tanner was my dog, not my husband's.

He took well to the kennel, loved being inside, got along great with the cats and the kids. I had no problems leaving him in the same room with the baby on the floor; I never worried about him. He loved to wrestle with The Mr. and the kids. He would get down on the floor and stretch his legs toward the wrestlers and throw his head around and howl ever so slightly. He was playing too and we all knew it.

And he loved to take walks with me in the mornings. Ironically, one day last week while we were walking I was thinking that I ought to put his collar and ID back on him. I'm not exactly sure why it came off, actually. He probably got a bath and the collar just stayed off. I'm not even sure where it is.

So when The Mr. called last Thursday to say that Tanner had gotten out while he was mowing the lawn, I thought "well, he'll be back." But when I got home after work and he still hadn't returned, I began to worry. He never stayed gone this long. I was lost, really. I didn't know what to do, but held out hope that he would be standing at the front door waiting for me by the time I was ready for my walk on Friday morning. (I almost took his leash with me just so I could feel him near me.)

But Friday came and went, as did the weekend and now it's Tuesday and Tanner is still gone. I looked in the paper for any announcements of a found dog. Nothing. I drove down the street where I thought he might have gone. Nothing. And in a true sign of defeat, I put a flyer up on the community bulletin board at the nearest grocery store. I honestly expected there to be a message on the machine yesterday when I got home. But, nothing.

My gut tells me that he's with someone and not smushed on the side of the road somewhere. My gut tells me that someone recognized that he's a kept dog (he was wearing a body harness) and is trying to keep him safe. My gut tells me that he's inside someone's house. My gut tells me he feels like he's in jail (or is that just me feeling helpless?).

Part of me thinks he'll come back, part of me doesn't. The Mr. said that if he doesn't come back in the next couple of weeks that we'll get another dog. But I'm not sure I'm ready for that. He's too much a part of me and this family to simply replace on a whim. (I think The Mr. is trying to help me fill a void.) How will we ever find The Perfect Dog again?

I've lost pets to death before, but never literally lost one. Where do I put this?


At 8:57 AM, Blogger julia said...

Oh, that's so sad. I had that happen with a cat once. I'm sorry your dog is gone. Maybe keep checking with shelters and the local dog pound, if your town has one. You can also plaster the town with flyers and pictures of the dog.

I hope you can find him.

At 7:49 PM, Blogger atpanda said...

This breaks my heart! I just cannot even imagine if one of my puppies got out and didn't come home. My heart is breaking for you! I hope your Tanner finds his way home soon.


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