Andy, Kris and I went off to Andy's place in Lockwood today. Well, no, no, that's not quite correct. Andy, Blue, Shadow, Kris, Bella, Annie and I all dogpiled into Andy's truck and drove down to Lockwood today for an overnight campout at Andy's place. I think Andy mentioned that he hasn't camped at his place before, and has been wanting to do so for a long while now. Kris and I were up for the adventure, so over-packed for a night of camping (eh, it's not like we were going to be carrying the stuff), and headed off with the girls, the boys and Andy.
The two hour drive wasn't too bad. We zipped down, parked the truck at the bottom of the hill, grabbed some snacks and started up the hill. We didn't make it more than about 30 yards before I was grossed out.
Nothing like a dead deer leg to remind me that we're in nature. Like real nature.
Of course, the electrical wire connector right next to it puts a modern twist on the nature thing, eh?
So, off on our hike we go to the top of the hill. Andy's been meaning to go to the top of another hill, one or two over from his hill, for a while now, and wanted to conquer that hill today. After the two hour drive, the movement/hike/walk felt good.
As we were walking up to the top of the hill, Blue was chasing his disc, Shadow was trailing us, Annie was dashing off the road and back on, and Bella was doing her own thing. As we were summitting the hill, Bella caught a scent and turned away, to head down the hill following Annie who had just run down the hill herself.
As Bella turned to head off, I thought to myself, "Hey, maybe I should stop her." I didn't, because, hey, we're off in the wilderness camping, right? Except that Bella doesn't seem to listen to us when we go off in a specific direction. Annie stays with the pack: she'll run ahead, but always stop to and return to check in with the Alpha (aka Kris). Bella just puts her nose down and goes. We lose her for hours on end when we go to Water Dog Lake.
So, Bella turned right when we all wanted to go left. Andy commented, "Bella. Yeah, that one is going to cause problems."
Of course, he was right. None of us could find the dog after that. We walked up to the top of the hill. We walked half way back down the hill. We walked in the direction Bella went. We followed her path. We followed all of the dogs' paths. We couldn't find her.
After about a half an hour of not being able to find her, I offered that Andy and Kris should just go ahead and head up the mountain. We were losing daylight, with Andy not knowing how long the hike to the top of the other mountain they needed to get going.
"You sure?" both Andy and Kris asked. Yes, yes, sure. I mean, stay back and take macro pictures of rocks while looking for the dog?
Sign me up!
So, Kris, Andy, Annie, Blue and Shadow went off to the top of the hill, while I continued to look for the little dog. I started by walking down the hill she disappeared on. I walked down the hill, around the corner, back up the hill on the other side. I walked down the drive Andy had cut into the side of the hill, calling for the dog. I walked back up to the top of the hill, calling for the dog. I walked to the edge of various dropoffs and called and called and called. I walked through bushes where a little dog could go, but a woman probably shouldn't have gone. I eventually scrambled back down the hill to the truck, in case she decided to just head back to the starting point, which is what she had done when Bella had wandered off last time we were at Lockwood. She wasn't there.
I decided to walk down the road leading out of the property, still calling for the dog. I began having images of the dog actually being lost, unable to find our scents, and being alone at night, maybe eaten by a mountain lion or some other wild animal. Hearing a gunshot around 4 in the afternoon (4:09 to be exact) didn't exactly help me feel better about losing the dog, images of her thinking someone's chickens would be easy prey, and getting shot by a neighbor.
I started progressing through the seven stages of loss. I was well past the disbelieve and denial stages, and skipped straight through the bargaining phase since there really wasn't anyone to bargain with. The guilt phase was easy to zoom through, too, as I was the one who was thinking hey, maybe I shouldn't let her walk away right now. She's dead because I didn't stop her from turning to the right. Great.
So, completely in the anger phase of loss, I stomped down the dirt road to the main road, calling the stupid dog's name, and stomped back up to the truck. I was at a loss. I had walked the areas the dog had been. I had branched out in the likely directly she would have gone. I had called her name for the last two hours can couldn't find that thriced damned dog. Hell, I had even stopped taking pictures.
Back at the truck, I thought, okay, maybe she's wandered well off Andy's land. I can't do much for the land to the east, but I can check the land to the west, maybe see a small tan spot moving in a large field of tan. Crap, I'm not going to find her, I thought, depression at having lost the dog settling in as the sixth phase of loss. Damn it, dog.
So, I hopped into Andy's truck, and drove back down the dirt trail, and back onto the main road, driving slowly and trying to look for a tan beagle on the mountain sides. I pulled over for other trucks (and they were all trucks) to pass me, as I moved into accepting that we had lost the dog. Stupid annoying little dog, going off on her own and f---ing dying on us. It was SUPPOSED to be a good trip, not a sad trip. Fine, I'd stay the night, but only because I had small bit of hope, possibly we'd hear the calls of the coyotes and be able to find the dog. Dumb dog.
I turned around, and drove the truck back to the Crews' base camp, just as Kris and Andy were walking down Crews Road within shouting distance. On a lark, I called out, "Did you find the dog? Because I didn't!"
"Yes! We did!"
Turns out, Bella decided to hike her own hike. Kris and Andy had walked to the top of the hill that Andy wanted to hike, and turned around. About 200 yards from the peak, Bella popped out of the brush to Andy's and Kris' joyful calls. Instead of turning around with the two of them (five of them?), she kept walking up the hill that Andy and Kris had just summitted. When she reached the top, she turned around, and followed the same path back down the hill that Andy and Kris had taken. She was on her own hike, walking her own pace.
Oddly enough, her own hike didn't involve lots of nose-following, off-the-path directions.
The prodigal doggie returns!