Thursday, October 7, 2010


Gentle Readers,

Here's why it has been Hell Week in Cougartown.

As you may recall, my beloved collie died on July 27th, the day after his 13th birthday -- an event from which I may never recover because I've never communicated with a dog the way I could with Faulkner, who was admired for his beauty everywhere he went. I am an attention whore, and I loved the attention I received because I was in the company of my man Faulkner.

So one collie gone, one collie remains. Harper Lee does not possess the brilliance of a Faulkner, but he is a sweet and beautiful dog with big brown eyes who takes treats from my fingers without touching them.

However, Harper is an escape artist. He was a stray who got picked up and what's his name (that husband guy) and I adopted him about seven years ago after Thoreau the Treeing Walker Coonhound died.

It's easy to see why he was a stray. The dog has wanderlust. Given any opportunity, he takes off. He weighs 80 pounds but he can turn himself into the Incredible Shrinking Dog and wiggle out of the tiniest spots. He can dig a little hole under the fence that you would think wasn't even big enough for a chihuahua to get through, roll over on his back, and slide out as if he's been greased with Crisco.

Normally when he gets out, I follow him around the neighborhood with biscuits and a lead, followed by a group of kind and caring neighbors, and eventually he stops to check out somebody's cat and we all scream SWARM SWARM and the lead is on his collar and the collar is on him and we walk wearily home after thanking the neighbors and he gets a big drink and falls asleep.

But on Monday, I made a big mistake - huge (I have to go shopping now, Pretty Woman). I needed to fix a spot under the house where Robin the cancer-stricken foster bulldog had been escaping (yes, Robin is still alive and kicking and shows absolutely no sign of buying the farm).

I had the gate open because I, with my hilariously funny broken back, had to carry bricks and a 50-pound bag of quikrete into the backyard to make the repair and I couldn't open and close the gate with all that crap to carry. So, yes, the gate was open, but all the dogs were shut in the house.

Fatal error. The door wasn't locked.

Either Robin or Scout the black Lab mix stood up and turned the handle on the door and everybody came trooping out.

Scout stopped on the deck. I suggested that he go back inside, and being an intelligent little guy who enjoys his meals and sleeping in bed with Mom, he turned around and trooped right back into the house.

Robin and Harper departed, via the open gate. I grabbed a couple of leads and a box of biscuits and set off after them, desperately calling their names. Usually this would bring half the neighborhood out, but can you believe nobody was home? Not a soul. Not even Dennis who had a motorcycle accident and can barely walk with a crutch and spends most days sitting on his porch watching the neighborhood go by while he recovers.

Robin ran up to me after about 5 minutes, looking pleased that I wanted her. Big goofy grin on her face as I took her home and locked her in the house with Scout.

Then I hopped in the car to search for Harper. Eventually I saw him in a yard a considerable distance from my home. I got out and called him and tossed biscuits in his direction. He took off running as if he gets beaten at home instead of being served excellent kibble in a silver bowl, having a beautiful backyard where he talks trash with the rottie who lives behind us, and sleeps in bed with his back pressed against mine.

I followed on foot, leaving the car just sitting in the street, and to my horror, he left the neighborhood. He ran across an extremely busy street. I followed, dodging cars with their screaming horns. I followed him as he ran and ran and I finally lost sight of him. I returned to the car to drive around in the hood on the other side of the busy street.

No Harper.

Suddenly I realized I was almost to the door of the writer of If Martha Can Do It I Can Do It (she's not blogging a lot lately; she's very busy, but I assure you she's a wonderful writer). I pulled into her driveway and stumbled to the door, sobbing that Harper was gone and I absolutely could not take losing him. She was all business. She grabbed the telephone and started making calls to animal control to watch for him, and she even called his vet's office in the state where we used to live because his rabies tag was on his collar and it had that vet's number on it. She gave them my new phone number and explained that he was missing. She gave me a glass of water and a chance to calm down.

I went back out her door, tearless and determined to search in a logical fashion. I decided to go to animal control and got directions from my friend google. I arrived at animal control, which had a sign that said animal control with the name of my county. There was a building with kennels visible. There was a sign that said office. But there were no barking dogs, no one in the parking lot, nothing but a sign on the door that said we've moved to *****. But that was the address I had googled. That was the address where I was supposed to be. Animal control was as lost as Harper.

I came home and searched some more.

When he didn't come home at 5 p.m., I knew he was lost because 5 p.m. is supper time and he knows when it is 5 p.m. and he is not one to miss a meal.

I slept on the couch, which means I dozed and awoke every 10 minutes, because I hoped that somehow he would find his way back to me and bark at the door.

He didn't.

I got up first thing in the morning and started the search again. If Martha Can Do It I Can Do It knew how to get to the real animal control building where she checked for him and filled out a missing pet report. She was there at 8 a.m. with her 18-month old daughter. If that's not a good person, then who is?

About noon I went to Office Depot with a picture of Harper and asked them to make HARPER IS LOST flyers, offering a reward. They said it would take about 90 minutes. I went to have lunch and then asked I.M.C.D.I.I.C.D.I. if I could stop by. On my way to her house, my phone rang. I thought it would be Office Depot calling to say my flyers were ready.

But it wasn't Office Depot.

It was a young man who said Harper had been hanging out in his sister's yard all day and they had called animal control, in their county, to pick him. But the young man had copied down all the info from Harper's rabies tag and had made calls to Illinois, where the vet's office told him my name and phone number and he called me and told me Harper was on his way to animal control.

I was so excited I got lost on the way to my young friend's house, and it's only about five minutes away. I gave her the good news and she called the other county's animal control and learned they closed at 4 (it was 3:45) and that the officer wouldn't arrive with Harper until after they closed. She told them his name, my name, everything there was to know including that I haven't had sex in years (oops that just slipped out; she didn't actually say that and probably did not know it until now though she might have suspected) and, finally, that I would be there to pick him up when they opened at 10 a.m. on Wednesday.

And I was. It was an hour away from home, and I sure wish Harper could tell me how he got there.

I wish I could say nice things about the people at that animal control, but I can't. They didn't care that Harper had a rabies tag. They didn't care that my friend had called to tell them that I would be there to pick him up. They acted as if they didn't know what I was talking about when I arrived, but the truth slipped out as they spoke privately. They knew he was wearing the tag. They knew my friend had called. But they treated me like crap and made me wait 45 minutes to look in the kennels for him (I'll write nice things about other animal control places some other time).

When I finally had my Harper in my arms, he glanced at me as if to say, "Oh, it's you. I knew you'd come." I noticed immediately that his tag with his name and address was gone, so it's a really good thing the rabies tag didn't come off too.

So I have a huge thank you for the guy who found him. You rock, kid. You kick major ass. You want my first born male child? You can have him. Oh, please, take him.

Anyway, I called Harper's savior to thank him and I said I never would have found him out there and animal control didn't care. He said, I know. That's why I wasn't going to quit calling until I found you.

I gave Harper biscuits on the long drive and thought about stopping at Micky D's to get him a burger but was afraid I'd upset his stomach. But we didn't come straight home. We went to the vet's office and got a new name and address tag and got Harper a microchip. He's a high tech dog now.

And he's home. He was exhausted, but not injured in any way. He slept on the couch all afternoon and on the deck during the evening and we went to bed for snuggling at 9:00.

Now, I realize this has been a very long story. Sometimes my posts are short, and sometimes they are long, and this one has been extra long, so I'll give you my conclusion and then it's time to feed the dogs.

Conclusion: First, I asked all my friends to pray for Harper's safe return, and they did. I received so many supportive emails and calls. Second, that wonderful young man made sure that Harper came back to me. If this isn't proof that prayer has power and that there are still good, kind people in the world, then I don't know what you need in order to believe.

Infinities of love,



  1. I'm so glad Harper made it home!

  2. Me too! He has been quite content to sleep on the couch or the deck or a doggie bed since his return. He approaches me for lots of petting and kissing and is even happier than usual to have his meals. He lost 10 pounds!

  3. I can't believe you knew a blogger in town!


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