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Monday, July 2, 2012

The Longest 12 Hours of my Life

Saturday we had gone to a friend's house in another city for a BBQ, We had a wonderful time but it was a long drive and pretty late by the time we got home.

As soon as I got in, I rushed out to lock the gates to the hen houses. Since it's still very hot, I had let them loose to free-range, but if I didn't lock their pens, I'd be inviting raccoons and coyotes to free buffet. 

I no sooner opened the back door of the house to head out to the chickens when Tank pushed the door away from me and bolted outside. The neighbors, well behind our property, had been shooting those horrible firecracker bombs that sound like artillery. Tank is terrified of loud noises and headed in the direction AWAY from the noise.

I panicked and yelled for Greg, thus beginning an ordeal that would last through the night and into the next morning. 

We searched every ditch, culvert, creek bed, and field. I stopped cars on the street and asked them to keep an eye out for an elderly rottweiler. We called out Tank's name until our throats were swollen.


Back and forth we went, each of us going in different directions. In the meantime, the neighbors were still partying and blowing those damn firecrackers. On top of that, the cicadas were making so much noise it was hard to listen for the subtle jingle of Tank's collar.

We'd return home every few minutes, checking every potential hiding place over and over again. We left the garage and the back porch wide open in case he came home on his own.

By 3am, I was terrified that he might've had a heart attack and died in someone's field. Or worse, drowned in someone's pond.

Greg went out and I started making flyers until the ink to my printer went dry. As night rolled into day, we handed out the flyers to everyone we found on the street and taped them to every mailbox whose property could be breached by a large dog.

At 10am the next day, I got a phone call. Do I own a large rottweiler, she asked.

YES! A million times, yes. I told her we'd been looking nonstop since the night before. She told us there was a dog wandering her property this morning, looking pathetically lost. They had given him water and decided to hang onto him while she made the phone call. Even while she was on the phone with me, she was speaking softly to him.

Then I heard Tank's heavy breathing! I'd recognize that freight-train breathing anywhere.

She gave me her address and we raced out there like lightning. As we entered the private road (a road we had checked earlier) we could see Tank standing with three other people. His ears perked up when he recognized our car, and I jumped out and hugged him before Greg could shut off the engine.

That's when I broke down and started crying. Stupid dog gave me a big kiss and I hugged him again. Then I got up and hugged the lady who called me.

Tank was filthy, exhausted, and limping, but he was alive. He had crossed a busy highway to get to the quieter road. That alone scares the hell out of me. This is the same highway where feral pigs and deer get hit all the time.

We took the Prodigal Dog home and gave him two baths and examined him from head to paw. When I was sure he was all in one piece, I fed him a small meal of chicken and scrambled eggs. More petting and crying, then we all went to bed for a short nap. Greg and I had not slept since the night before last.

Saturday night was the worst night of our lives. But what a difference a day makes when your dog comes home to you alive.

Tank is not one to run away, but even well behaved dogs will run if they think their lives are in danger. Always have ID on your dog.

Living out in the boonies, we have no laws preventing people from shooting fireworks. People here like to set off those massive explosions for major celebrations and parties. Beautiful to see, but terrifying to animals.

I wasn't going to post today, but I had to share one last hurrah. We are still exhausted, but we're a family again and that's all that matters.

Some of you knew of my ordeal because I had contacted you when all seemed lost. I was afraid I'd be gone a long, long time and I didn't want to leave anyone hanging. Thank you for your prayers and well wishes. I think I'll go collapse now. It might be some time before we're recovered.


Marianne Arkins said...

More dogs are lost on the Fourth of July than any other day of the year. My vet's dog got loose during a thunderstorm (I found her ... paws torn to bits from running). Thankfully, Dakota has no fear of loud noises (garbage cans, car keys, cardboard boxes ... yes; Fireworks, no) but so many dogs do, it's heartbreaking.

I lost Bailey once for about four hours and nearly died. I can't imagine what you went through. I'm SO glad you found him and that he was safe. Give him a hug for me. And take a hug for yourself.

R. Mac Wheeler said... heart pounded just reading this.

Argh. But happy ending.

My big girl hates em too...but she has done so much better...gleaming the serenity off my Labrador, who doesn't even sound like she hears them.

My GSD, Corky would find a corner to throw up when the fire works started, and here in FL, the idiots shoot them off for anything. Stubbed a toe...let's make idiot noises.

I need to find tags that I can attach to their bandannas.

*sending love*


Shirley Wells said...

That made me cry but I'm so glad your story had a happy ending.

I remember the night my old dog went wandering and I never, ever want to experience that again. I was out in the car looking for him and saw something black lying on the side of the road. My heart was in my mouth until I saw it was just a rubbish bag. I don't think he ever knew why he got such a royal welcome when he came home. :)

Sending hugs to you both - and Tank. Take good care of yourselves.

LD Masterson said...

*huge sigh of relief*

Angelina Rain said...

I'm so glad to hear that you got Tank back. That sounds like a hellish ordeal you just went through, I was panicking just reading it.

Joey is scared of all kinds of loud noises. Lately it's been storming here a lot and he's been spending time in the laundry room as that is in the middle of the house and gets the least amount of noise.

B.E. Sanderson said...

That must've been horrible. I'm so glad you got your furbaby back. :hugs:

Clarissa Draper said...

I'm so glad you found him. It would really worry me if my dog got lost. They let off fire crackers a lot down here in Mexico and it scares my dog to death.

E.J. Wesley said...

I'd be worried sick for my dogs as well, Maria! Mine are also afraid of fireworks, but they hide under the beds. Tough for Tank to do I bet. :)

So glad he is back home and safe.

Stacy McKitrick said...

I'm so happy you found him (((hug))). I'd have been crying all over him, too. Hopefully, when you wake up, it'll just feel like a bad dream. One that will fade away soon.

Sandra Almazan said...

I'm glad you found him! Hugs to you and Tank.

Raelyn Barclay said...

My heart was in my throat most of yesterday worrying for you. And reading the details today just makes the relief I felt when I got your email all the more so!

I'm SO glad he's home safe and sound. {{hugs}} to you all.

Marguerite Butler said...

So scary! I'm glad you found Tank. What an awful day, but a good ending.

People can be lousy, but they can be wonderful as well, just like the lady who reunited you with Tank.

Rula Sinara said...

Gosh! I'm so glad you found him safe and okay. We have neighbors who pop those firecrackers at 10pm, and it makes my dogs bark like crazy. I hate it.

Barbara Ann Wright said...

I know that night of terror well. I'm so glad you got him back safe and sound. Sometimes mine calm down if I wrap them up in a blanket. I know that wasn't an option at the time because he raced past you (had that happen, too). I plan to do a lot of dog snuggling in the coming days. ^_^

darstan said...

maria, so glad it turned out well. I know how you felt and it is not a good feeling. Glad Tank is home safe.

Julie said...

Oh my goodness, I'm so glad you found Tank and he is home safe! I wanted to cry with you just reading this. My dog is also terrified of fireworks and I dread the 4th each year because it is so hard on him. I can only imagine how frightened and worried you must have been. Hugs to you and your beautiful Tank!

Maria Zannini said...

Marianne: As the hours slipped by, so was hope. More so when the noise died down and still no Tank. We probably aged ten years that night.

Mac: Yes, please ID on your babies. It wasn't the flyers that brought Tank back but his tags. Thank God I left his collar on.

Shirley: I know what you mean! Every piece of black plastic or tire tread on a midnight road looks like a dead dog. We were sick.

Darke Conteur said...

Glad to hear he's okay. :) *hugs*

Maria Zannini said...

Linda: Thank you for being so comforting and asking others to pray for him.

Angelina: I wish I understood why some dogs are terrified by thunder and fireworks and others couldn't care less. All you can do is try to soothe them.

B.E.: Thanks. It was so good to get home and collapse, knowing our 'pack' was safe.

Clarissa: It's an awful feeling. I wouldn't wish it on anyone.

Maria Zannini said...

EJ: LOL. If he could crawl under the bed, I'm sure he would. He normally goes into the walk-in closet.

Stacy: We're still very tired, but grateful.

Sandra: Thanks, hon. I was ready to shut down my entire online life. I would've been too shattered to continue.

Maria Zannini said...

Raelyn: He is one lucky dog. But I hope he doesn't test his luck much more. I don't think me and Greg can take it. :) Thanks, hon.

Marguerite: We're about to leave in a few minutes to bring that nice lady a present. It's the least I can do for reuniting us with our baby.

Rula: I wish people would understand that all their partying can be very selfish to their neighbors. Mine were very far away, but those fireworks was like being in the middle of a war.

Jackie Burris said...

Maria a happy ending is good! Horrible to have to live through that many hours of worry, grief, and pain of not knowing how things would turn out but so glad Tank came through his ordeal okay and that you and Greg did too.

(Last time this happened to me it turned out okay as well, however that sick feeling in the pit of my stomach hit as soon as I saw your post title and by the end the tears of relief were flowing fast and furious because know for a fact losing Tank would have pretty much killed you guys for sure.)

Hugs to all and get some rest!

Maria Zannini said...

Barbara: If this taught me anything, it's to hug my dogs more. You never know when it'll be the last time.

Darstan: It's a sick feeling, one that lingers even after the danger is gone. I hope you got your baby back.

Julie: Thank you. Greg reminded me that ironically, it was nine years to the day when we adopted him from the rescue group.

Darke: It was nothing short of a miracle. Thanks for the hugs. :)

Maria Zannini said...

Jackie: It's true. You run through all these extreme emotions, constantly running through your mind if there was something you missed.

I would've been shattered. Loss is inevitable, but for something stupid like fireworks, it's incomprehensible.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

Glad tank is okay. None of our animals were ever afraid of noises so we didn't have runaway experiences. It would be terrible.

Sarah Ahiers said...

omg how utteryly terrifying!! I'm so sorry you had to go through that. I live in constant fear that i'll lose one of our dogs. Especially George, who is a runner. And we're terrible about keeping their collars on, though they are all microchipped. I'm so glad he's home safe. Give him a hug and a kiss from me.

Dru said...

I'm soooo glad that Tank is home safe and sound. {{{Maria}}}

Maria Zannini said...

Susan: It's not a day I'd like to repeat any time soon. It'll take me all week to recover.

Sarah: I will pass on your hugs and kisses. :) Glad your kids are microchipped.

Dru: It was a nightmare! Even now I can't believe we dodged a bullet.

Jenny Schwartz said...

I'm so glad Tank is back home and safe. Enjoy your family, Maria :)

Maria Zannini said...

Jenny: That dog has not left our sight. LOL.

Angela Brown said...

Oh, Maria. I'm so glad Tank is back home where he belongs. I'm just sad it happened in the first place. It isn't the 4th just yet. Geez!

Well, back to big hugs for Tank!

Maria Zannini said...

Angela: We will be keeping a very close eye on him until after the 4th. Our nerves can't afford another night like this. :)

Melissa McClone said...

I am so sorry you had to go through that. Hugs and I'm so glad you found him. There is no worse feeling. Trust me I know.

Stacy said...

Oh Maria - I am so glad that you are reunited! I can only imagine how incredibly scary that night was. I'm so happy for you, Greg and Tank!

Cate Masters said...

Oh no! Poor Tank! And poor you guys. I can only imagine how frantic you were. Thank goodness you found him safe.
Lily's been trembling for days. Our neighbors love to set off fireworks. *sigh*
Give Tank a big hug and take a nice, long, well-deserved rest!

Maria Zannini said...

Melissa: We were caught totally unprepared. We never anticipated losing Tank. He's just not the kind of dog to run away.

Stacy: Bar none, it was the worst night of my life. We must have walked for miles.

Cate: I used to like fireworks, but not anymore. From now on, we're hunkering down until the noise stops.

Renee Miller said...

I'm glad Tank's okay, and sorry that the three of you had to go through such fear and worry. We're pretty rural and fireworks are a common thing all summer here. My dogs aren't bothered by it because we also live right next to the fire/ambulance dispatch. They're used to loud noises. *Hugs*

Suzanne Brandyn said...

You know how to put tears in a person's eye. :) I'm so glad your dog Tank is safe and happy, and you are too. What a devestating night. Phew. :)

James Garcia Jr. said...

I'm so glad to hear you found your Tank. My wife jokes about letting our cat out, but I don't think it's funny at all. The reason he's inside is because his brother, and my favorite, was killed in the street. All's well that ends well. Get some rest, dear friend.


Maria Zannini said...

Renee: It's a strange thing about Tank. He didn't start out being this scared of firecrackers. I will admit, the fireworks they were shooting the other night sounded like a scene out of Saving Private Ryan. It even startled me.

Suzanne: I kept my game face on through the ordeal, but when I finally saw him whole and alive I broke down and started crying. The emotion just overwhelmed me.

Jimmy: We joke about these things all the time, but only because we don't mean them. All of us have been resting since the ordeal. It knocked the stuffing out of us.

Nadja Notariani said...

Glad he's home safe, Maria! My Shepherd was getting his hair up (he makes these snuffing barks and growls low in his throat - that's how I know his hair is over the fireworks. We live in town, but the week leading up to the fourth is one barrage of fireworks around here. The night of the fourth it sounds like a war zone! (Scranton inhabitants love their fireworks!!) I kept soothing him and telling him to settle. Luckily, once he realized I wasn't bothered by it, he flopped down and relaxed. Ha! Good thing, too, since today will be a fevered pitch of serious fireworks.

Shelley Munro said...

Oh, Maria, my heart was thumping reading this, and I have tears in my eyes. I'm so glad you found him safe. Scotty used to hate fireworks and we had a similar sleepless night to you searching for her, so I know exactly what you went through. Give Tank a hug from me.

Young Bella hears fireworks and runs outside telling them off. She has no fear. Personally I'd be happier if fireworks were banned.

Maria Zannini said...

Nadja: Dogs take cues from our behavior, but some fears are innate. It's like my fear of water. No one can convince me it's safe because of my irrational fear.

Shelley: I find it strange that Mama, the white lab we found, just barks at the fireworks, warning it to stay away.

I wish fireworks were banned too. I don't like loud noises either--especially when it sounds like I'm being shelled.

Emily Hendricks said...

I hate it when people shoot off fireworks in residential neighborhoods! There are animals and sleeping babies and heaven knows what else that foo not need the loud noises.

Mary Curry said...

Maria, I'm so glad I'm reading this when it has a happy ending.

I had a nightmare two weeks ago that Fenway burst our the door past me, down the steps and out onto a busy avenue. I woke shaking.

Fast forward a week. I was sitting at the window and noticed the postman leave our front gate open. A few minutes later my husband asked me to open the front door so he could put an old chair out. As I was calling back to warn him about the open gate, Fenway pushed past him and bounded down the front stoop. I literally threw myself at him to stop him because it all happened so fast. He'd heard my neighbor's voice and was running for his treat. Fortunately she heard my screams and slammed the gate shut before he got out.

I've got scrapes all over my legs, but at least Fenway didn't make it through the gate.

Just sharing so you know I feel what you went through. So sorry, but I'm glad it ended up well.

Kim said...

I'm so glad you found Tank, safe and sound. I lost a dog for a few days once and was frantic until I found her. She was microchipped, but it was only by freak luck that I found her at a local (thankfully no-kill) shelter about 2 days after she disappeared. I spent those 2 days calling shelters, rescue groups and vets because no one had the technology to scan for the chip.

My current dog has ID tags on her collar. We got lucky once, I won't push the odds.

I have a neighbor who lives to blow stuff up - any excuse to shoot off firecrackers/fireworks and the cops here don't do a thing about it, even though we DO have laws against them. It's just not worth their time - until someone gets a hand blown off and needs the rescue squad, I suppose... /rant

Maria Zannini said...

Emily: Unfortunately, since I live in the boonies, I don't even have the law on my side. I have good neighbors, but they do like to throw big parties with live music and fireworks.

Maria Zannini said...

Mary: Let's hear it for precognition! I'm sorry you got hurt though. I swear these pets are going to be the death of us. LOL. I'm glad Fenway is okay. (Cool name, by the way.)

Kim: That's the trouble with microchips. Even though the technology is more common now, lots of people don't know enough to check it out before shooing the dog away.

Madeleine Maddocks said...

OMGosh I am so glad this had a happy ending. We were devastated when our cat went missing overnight and like you searched everywhere. The worst scenarios flash in and out of your head when a beloved member of the family goes missing. I can empathise so much with your nightmare. So glad Tank is safe and sound. Hugs x

Maria Zannini said...

Madeleine: We're still recovering from the incident. I don't know what we would've done had we not found him.

Writer Pat Newcombe said...

Just to let you know I mentioned you on my bloglights spot today.

Maria Zannini said...

Pat: Cool. I've already been by your place. Thanks, Pat!

Sarita said...

What a nightmare! I am so sorry this happened to you. Thank goodness he's home and safe now.

Hope you've taken some time to relax and just recover. Sending huge hugs your way.

Maria Zannini said...

Sarita: It took us many days to recover, both physically and emotionally. The poor old boy looked so bedraggled. We probably didn't look so good either. :)