Friday, October 14, 2011

How Could You?

A week ago Hubby rear-ended a car just three blocks from home. The car he hit sustained no damage but the Lincoln lost its front bumper (with license plate). Interestingly, the police blamed the other driver so on Monday Hubby took the Lincoln in for repair and picked up a cherry red Nissan, much smaller than our town car. Both dogs were required to sit in the back seat. Also, the back windows were NOT child proofed and rolled all the way down, while the Lincoln's only went half way.

Luie hangs out windows. It's his joy when riding down the road, rain or shine, broiling heat or freezing cold. The back windows are nearly always down and Luie's head is facing the breezes. We think, because he's blind, he likes to smell where he's going.

Monday evening and Tuesday, I complained to Hubby about how far Luie was able to stick out of the little Nissan, since the windows were so low and the car so small. Now I could make a sexist comment here, about men, but NOT all men think they can control their entire world -- just my husband. So he left Luie to enjoy himself, flinging himself into the wind.

Wednesday, Hubby and the boys came from home to pick me up after school -- a journey of 18+ miles one way. Luie and Gus started our riding happily in the back seat, enjoying the afternoon cruise.

I came from school, tired from doing hallway bulletin board duty (I agreed to put up the Health student of the month boards for the year), opened the back car door to deposit my rolling school bag, and only Gussie greeted me, quietly sitting in the corner of the car. Gussie was looking at the floor, not offering me a happy greeting, as he usually does.

"Where's Luie?" I queried.

"In the back, of course," snapped Hubby.

"Nope. No, Luie back here," I answered.

And Hubby had the effrontery to turn around to prove me wrong. Strike one for Hubby.

Of course, there was no Luie.

I quickly clamored into the front seat, belted up and we tore out.

"When did you last see him in the car?" I tried to sound calm.

"I don't know."

"When did you last hear them barking?" I responded.

"They didn't."

We tore down the road to the 18th Street Expressway -- a highway of bustling traffic, semis, speeding cars, and motorcycles.

No Luie.

We raced down the highway, frantically searching the side of the road. After all, he had only have been gone for less than half an hour.

No Luie.

We sped into Merriam, Kansas, a little shopping district with a huge grocery, a Wal-Mart, a McDonald's, and other like businesses. You can imagine just how busy that area was.

No Luie.

Down Roe Boulevard we drove the speed limit. Past the elementary school with all the parents picking up children.

No Luie.

Back into Prairie Village with the Mission Shopping Mall.

No Luie.

All the way home, we hung out the windows frantically searching, not talking. Because if I had said it word, it would not have been nice. Not nice at all. Actually it would have been searingly awful. How in god's name could not know that a dog was missing from the car? Why didn't you listen when I asked that those windows be raised? How could you have let this happen?

Now here's the part where I'm to blame. During the summer, Luie's tags had been lost. They had come loose from his collar and fallen off somewhere in the park and we hadn't replaced them. Being blind, Luie is always leased. Always! He never is allowed to wander at will like Gussie, who is tagged with 4 jangling hearts and circles on his collar.

So, end run -- we have a blind dog, lost somewhere on an 18 mile strip of highway and bustling suburban shopping centers, with no tags and no street smarts and no way to find him.

My world was ending.

We spend two more hours traveling back and forth, hunting. No Luie.

Finally, as it grew dark, we wound our way home. I immediately composed a "Lost Schnauzer" ad for the newspaper, printed up stacks of lost dog fliers, and listed Luie on every lost dog registry we could find.

Then I took the maximum dosage of tranquilizers, plus one more for good measure, and passed out. Anything was better than staying awaking worrying.

Next morning we got up at 3 a.m., loaded the car with the flyers and set out. We attached flyers to every metal light pole for 18 miles.

We checked web sites. We sent off money to have Luie's picture mailed to every dog concern within a 10 mile radius of where we thought he may have been lost.

And I prayed. All day at school, I kept thinking, "If anything in my world is ever going to be right, please, God, let Luie be in the car when I come out of school this afternoon."

I knew Luie had been lost in a suburb that is noted for dog ownership. This people ARE dog people -- they own them, they care for them, and I have seen them stop in the middle of the road and endanger themselves to help a lost animal. If things went our way, maybe they would call Hubby's cell and Luie would be returned.

However, if Luie went missing for 24 hours, the odds diminished greatly.

Thursday afternoon only Gussie was in the car, still sitting quietly in the corner, looking at the floorboards.

We drove home in silence. Hubby took Gussie off with him when we got home. I think he decided it might just be better not to be the same house with me. We hadn't really spoken since Luie went missing.

I went in the house, swallowed the two plus a spare for good measure tranquilizers and fell into bed. Still better to be zonked than crying my heart out.

The tranquilizers were prescribed for my insomnia. They are mild -- and if nights are really bad, I'm allowed two. I'm very susceptible to such medications, so it doesn't take much, honestly, and I've never before had two, much less three. The affects last just four hours, but usually that is enough to allow me to get some sleep on the bad nights.

Right on the money, after four hours of sleep, I woke up at 7:30. Groggy, I realized that Gussie was in the bed with me. Now, Gussie is unable to jump on the bed. We have to lift him up because of his bad back / hips and short legs.

"Okay, Hubby came home and left Gussie with me." Hubby was out again but I wandered into the kitchen for a drink, and honestly to take two more pills so I could stay asleep. But I thought, I should probably feed Gussie. So I opened a can of the gourmet dog food, mixed in some pumpkin, and thought, "Old Gus deserves a treat."

When I hollered for Gus to come and eat, I looked over and out into the kitchen bounded Luie.

"Man, I guess I'd better stop taking those pills. Gus looks just like Luie now."

And then, right behind Luie, trotted in Gus.

The screaming commenced immediately. Luie turned tailed and ran back into the bedroom. He wanted nothing at all to do with the hollering woman who had let him be lost and terrified for the last 24 hours. In fact, he was royally pissed at both Hubby and me.

Hubby had gotten the call at 6 p.m. from the Shawnee Mission Police Department. He had picked up Luie but in typical Hubby fashion, hadn't asked one pertinent question as to where Luie had been, who had found him, or why the police had him. He jut took the dog and brought him home. He didn't bother to wake me up, either. Better a sleeping wife than one who looked like she was going to threatened to end a 38 year union with a couple of evil words.

We don't know what actually happened or why.

We do know that Luie was really upset with us. He wouldn't cuddle. He wouldn't play. He did come when called, but then stalked off, with his head turned away and his tail not thumping.

He began to get over it this weekend. He'll have tags before next week is over. The next time we're at the vet, he'll be microchipped.

I'm begninng to get over it, too. Hubby and I are again speaking. After thirty-eight years, you learn to forgive even the big things.

Luie is home. My world has turned right side up again. The rental car is gone, the Lincoln with the safe windows is driving Luie around, and we have all learned a lesson. Now to have Luie completely forgive us . . .


Margaret said...

Wow, what a story!! I'm so glad that it had a happy ending. After we take Kendra cat to the vet, she hates us for several days. :-)

Anonymous said...

I, also, am extremely glad that it had a happy ending!
I can't imagine losing a member of the family and thinking it was all over and never get to see him again. Let's do the "Happy Dance"!

Donna said...

Well, Iris recently disappeared overnight and that scared me to death! I did find out where she was: It was thundering, and she went and holed up in a neighbor's garage that afternoon. He didn't know she was there and shut the door. Next morning he opened the door and Iris bolted out and headed home.

Forty Pound Sack said...

So glad your fur kid has been found. What a terrible experience for all ~