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.