Friday, January 11, 2013

Mr. Sneaky


Here he is appearing to sip the majesty of the setting sun in a state of placid appreciation- but I'll betcha 5 bucks he's actually thinking about how to re-enact his 3 days of fear, loathing and freedom in the wilds of the Santa Monica Mountains.

Mind you, this is a tagged, micro-chipped, pampered and beloved boy who only LOOKS like a Pit Bull. His lifestyle and surroundings are pure Poodle; his own pillow (which he insists MUST be tucked in a very particular manner beneath his chin every night- or he will not settle down to sleep), clean flannel sheets resting upon his custom made memory foam bed, a boy-sized down comforter to snuggle under, organic raw food and treats at perfectly timed intervals throughout the day, a swimming pool at his disposal and enough daily activity to thrill 3 dogs- but to hell with all that, because at the dog-teen age of 3, adventure called in a way he could not ignore.  He went off trail, sat dead-still and hid (more about that later) from my panicked and now screaming BF until the sun was completely lost. BF actually had to leave the canyon (and the missing canid...) to get cell reception to call me. His lost dog S.O.S. propelled me from work at break-neck speed. Together we searched with high powered flashlights into the far reaches of the brush and scrub well past the hour of midnight. Not a sign of him. It was going to drop to 38 degrees that night and Henry was not dressed for the weather. The whole canyon was black as pitch and only echoed with the wild calls of coyotes. We went home in tears.

Three days of fruitless searching, 500 posted flyers, mass saturation of social media (at the shelter, I actually ran into a woman I did not know who had seen one of my postings and was there looking for Henry as well!) and a river of tears later a girlfriend said to me, "Send your love out like a light to guide him back to you." Now, at any other moment in my life life my answer to that would have been, 'Honey, I can't hear you over the excruciating volume of your patchouli oil....', but my desperation grabbed onto her new age wisdom-y words with both hands as though they were spun of  pure undistilled Universal Truth and squeezed the crap out of them until they morphed into a shining, gold and powerful mantra. Henry was only lost because he couldn't see my 'heart light!' (Note to self; steer clear of Scientology members during any and all times of possible future personal crises as you will wind up in The Sea Org). I left work within minutes after hearing those words. I picked up my other dog, Mabel, leashed her and we headed right back to the very spot where the boy had gone missing three days before. I stood on the lip of that canyon, empowered by everything 'Yanni' and called out like a tape loop (did I mention that I can be LOUD?). Dozens of dogs across the canyon (yes, we had searched there too...) barked in response and I thought I heard Henry amid the answering canines, but there were so many other barks, I really wasn't sure- however, Mabel was. When I looked down, a change had come over her. For the first time since Henry went missing, she was smiling, huffing and wagging her tail. Holy mother of Shirley Mclaine, she had heard him, too!

Call wait. Call wait. Call wait. (like a beacon!) In a moment the BF (yes, he'd left work too..) crested the trail hunched over and holding.... Henry's collar....with Henry in tow! BF said the dog had simply crashed out of the scrub right onto the trail in front of him.

Tears. Of. JOY!!!!!!!

Henry was thirsty, hungry and dirty but otherwise unscathed (vet confirmed ). On the way home and for the remainder of the night, Henry held his eyes open so wide that the sclera was visible all around the iris (as anyone who has ever even looked at a dog knows, this is not 'normal'- unless you are a Pug). He did not look fearful, but rather hyper-aware. He twitched and alerted to every sound and movement as though he'd been on the doggie equivalent of a three day meth run (um- he had!). At that point, had the cops shown up for any reason, surely he would have bolted again. No matter, a solid meal, cool, clean water and a soapy warm bath had him knocked out and sleeping for the next 30 hours.

Now, a bit about what we have realized in the ensuing days regarding 'Mr. Sneaky' (as he is now known...). We have come to understand just how NON-accidental his 'bush run' was (no sexy, tempting rabbit, no 'disorientation'....) because since having experienced the ultimate victory of pulling off (apparently...)The Greatest Dog Adventure EVER , he has engaged in countless attempts to perfect what we now know is his 'stealth move'. Let me describe it to you! As sunset draws near, he stops whatever he is doing and makes his way silently out the doggie door (usually this a noisy, careless, flapping kind of an exit) and creeps to the far reaches of our (fenced, thank god!!!) property. He finds a bush or tall clump of grass and 'disappears' himself into it like a lion on the Serengeti waiting for the annual wildebeest migration to pass. He then sits as still as a stone waiting for the light of day to dwindle. He watches us silently from his camouflaged lair as we look and call out his name and grow increasingly animated in our search. In fact, more than once, flashlights have had to be deployed in order to uncover his location. Upon discovery, he is NEVER the least bit remorseful (or surprised...). He simply checks his wrist watch and makes note of the amount of time it has taken for us to find him. He then casually saunters back into the house and calmly eats his organic, raw, specially prepared dinner.

For the moment, I have the impression that he does not quite realize that we are 'on to him'. And for the record, I am smarter than my dog- but apparently just barely.

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