The Silver Fox often kidnaps his mother's dog at the weekend and we use walking her as an excuse to get some exercise. She's a very cute, obedient and non-bitey dog so even I enjoy these forays into dog-person-land. So on Saturday morning when I looked up from my tidying to see a russet muzzle poking through the kitchen doorway, I was only mildly surprised.
As I had a significant amount of curry powder on my hands (I was in the middle of an increasingly complex "Spice Inventory" during which I had dropped the curry powder container and spilt it everywhere), I didn't give her much of a pat hello as I'd essentially be using her fur as a hand towel, which I can't help thinking is a little impolite. I can't help but wonder if I'd been a bit more welcoming, the rest of the day might have gone quite differently.
After this cursory dog hello, I monopolised the Silver Fox's attention by making him aware of the "coriander situation". We had two packets of ground, two packets of seeds, one packet of dried leaves and one rapidly wilting "fresh" plant. I was about to suggest a moratorium on coriander purchase when I caught a whiff of something awful. I was just about to accuse the SF of the fart of a lifetime when he moved and I saw past him to the living room carpet... and an enormous pile of fresh dog crap. Somehow, in the brief amount of time our backs were turned, our visiting Lassie lookalike had managed to silently lay cable and then slink off.
I busied myself with opening windows because, holy heck, the smell was awful and the SF got plastic bag doody duty. He put Very Naughty Dog outside while he was cleaning up after her so she wouldn't get in the way. And less than a minute later he was asking me if she was inside. Because she was...gone
Now, Very Naughty Dog (as I now think of her) is not usually what you would call a flight risk. In fact, when we take her for walks at the dog park it's damn near impossible to get her to go more than half a dozen metres from us. She's what you might call "clingy". She never wants to be too far from her humans. The couple of times she has wandered off the property she's never gone further than the next-door neighbour's letterbox. Hence our fairly relaxed approach to gate security when she's over.
The Silver Fox went out on to the street to look for her and I had every expectation that he'd be back in a minute. But then he wasn't. So I went out for a look too, walking around the block, calling for her as I went. As it started to drizzle on my bare arms (I'd left the house wearing a T-shirt) I realised that I was simultaneously worried about her and furious with her. That our winsome doggy friend was like Schrödinger's cat. Both alive and not alive. Both in Really Big Trouble and Forgiven of All Sins. In both states at once...at least as far as the knot in my stomach was concerned. I call this my theory of Quantum Puppicles.
When I got back to the house neither the dog nor the SF was there. The latter turned up 10 minutes later looking very stressed. He called his mother to say that the dog was missing. The phone call didn't go at all well. Not long afterward he headed out in the car so he could look further afield. The SF's mum lives about 3km away in Linwood so he heads off in that direction in case Very Naughty Dog is trying to go home.
In the meantime, I clean the traces of poo off the floor and pace around. I post increasingly agitated messages to Twitter, in the hopes that someone might spot her and get in touch.
At one point I hear a noise at the front door and think she's come back, but it's her owner, the SF's mum. I update her that no, the dog isn't back yet though her son is out looking for her. She decides to go out looking as well. Neither of them knows where the other is looking though, so it's all a bit chaotic and now I have to stay home in case either of them comes back. By this stage the dog's been gone for over half an hour so to break up the pacing about and feeling nauseated I post a photo of her to Twitter and Facebook with the SF's phone number.
Not long after that the SF arrives back but decides to go out again on his bike instead so that he can call out to Very Naughty Dog as he's combing the streets. Cue more pacing from me. I put the spices away and take a basket of washing out to the line to occupy myself and try not to imagine pupple's broken body lying by the side of the road after being hit by a car.
Very Naughty Dog has been making my stomach feel unpleasant for nearly an hour when the SF comes back on his bike looking like a broken man and convinced that she's been either killed or dognapped. I try to make soothing noises and check Twitter again on the off chance that someone has seen her.
Someone has seen her. On Stanmore Road. This is about 1.5km from our house and not at all on the way to her home.
I tweet, asking for further info from Chris, my Twitter informant, and in a voice that I do not entirely recognise as my own, I order the SF to "get in the car". It's the kind of flat, uninflected voice that I imagine kick-ass heroes in movies using as they're about to do something stupid. It's the "grab the wheel/take my gun/jump on to that roof" voice. I basically just channelled Jason Statham. Weird.
So we pile into the car, with me annoying the SF by wanting to actually lock the house (I've clearly stopped my Statham impersonation at this point) and we tear off in the direction of Stanmore Road, the SF now doing his own Statham impersonation in terms of his driving. But when we get there, there is no sign of her. We drive up and down scanning the footpaths and side streets but she's nowhere to be seen.
Then the SF's phone rings and he pulls over to answer it (clearly his Statham has also worn off) and I'm on tenterhooks as I try to glean from his half of the conversation whether there has been some development.
The SF's mother has Very Naughty Dog back home having picked her up on Avalon St not far from where our Twitter informant spotted her. The SF's mum doesn't have a mobile phone so she couldn't tell us until she got home. She probably had her back before we'd even left the house.
And at that point I have never wanted to sink into a bath full of wine as much in my life. I settled for an iced chocolate and a brownie but it took me the rest of the day to come down off the stress and adrenalin high. It even persisted into the evening as much to the SF's bemusement I chose to watch an entirely unchallenging piece of figure-skating teen starlet nonsense called Ice Princess on television. Watching Michelle Trachtenberg get excited about the physics of spinning on ice was as much drama as I could bear. The Anti-Statham, if you will.
So what I've learnt from this is that you should always shut the gate, just in case, and that Twitter is awesome. Seventeen people retweeted that picture of a missing dog at lunchtime on a Saturday and I'm grateful to each and every one of them. It's actually only a fluke that she was found when she was. It could easily have been otherwise and then the awesome dog-spotting abilities of @thelittlepakeha wiould have made all the difference.
As for the Very Naughty Dog? Apparently she was hanging her head in shame for the rest of the day.
Have you ever lost someone's pet? Is it always that gut-wrenching?