Heater, Mother of Lance

The night of the missing dogs

It all started when we received our second water bill for this house, one that had more than quadrupled in amount than the bill before it. Meaning we were spending more on water than a monthly payment on an Italian sports car. Maybe this was Jon’s mid-life crisis? And instead of losing it and running out and buying a convertible Porsche he freaked out one day, stood in the back yard, and sprayed the trees with water for twenty hours straight. Would that not be the cutest mid-life crisis ever?

Now, I’m taking way more baths than I ever have in my life, but it’s not like I’m filling a swimming pool every time I do it. So I know my cleanliness is not to blame for this ridiculous jump in the amount of our water bill. The only explanation is that we’ve got leaks or some other major issue going on with our sprinkler system. ISN’T THAT FUN. SO FUN. Welcome, sprinkler system, to our collection of home owner nightmares! Sprinkler system, meet our troubled boiler! Here’s our twenty-five-year-old roof that is falling off in chunks! Sorry, you missed the dehydrated cat that was living in our attic, but here are all our broken gutters! Oh, and a retaining wall that threatens to crush the garage!

Who in their right mind would buy a house like this, right? Let’s just put it this way: have you seen my bathtub? Fifteen minutes in that thing is like four shots of bourbon, and suddenly everything is fine and next thing you know you’re drunk dialing friends and slurring YOU ARE SO NICE, I LIKE YOU.

So we called out The Sprinkler People, and sure enough, several spots were just shooting gallons of water into the air every time they were turned on. Did I actually just write that sentence? Oh my god, I did. I’m not going to edit it because the thirteen-year-old boy in me is begging me to elaborate.

A few hours later and things were mostly fixed, and all that was going on while we were upstairs shooting video footage for the office remodel. In fact, they finished their work just as we were playing back the video and realized that Jon had plugged the microphone mixer into the wrong hole.

(Thirteen-year-old boy snicker)

(Sixty-eight-year-old father eye roll)

Meaning the microphone I had been wearing hadn’t been working the entire time. Meaning he wanted to reshoot the entire thing. Meaning my face turned an angry shade of red, and I said through gritted teeth, “You know that appointment you’re supposed to make with our marriage counselor? HERE’S THE PHONE.”

Right then my niece came bounding up the stairs. It was her last day with us since she starts school next week, and I thought she was coming to say goodbye. So I stood up to hug her, and she was all, dude. Gross.

And then she mumbled something, I couldn’t make it out, followed by, “We can’t find Coco.”


“Yeah, someone left the gate open, and we can’t find her anywhere.”

Since I have lived through The Missing Dog Scenario more than is fair to a single human being, the script started running through my head involuntarily: I AM GOING TO FIND HER DEAD BODY IN THE MIDDLE OF THE ROAD. I WILL NEVER GET OVER THIS. I WILL NEVER GET OVER THIS. I WILL NEVER GET OVER THIS.

It all happened so fast, but I remember ripping the microphone off of my chest, running down two flights of stairs and out the front door in my bare feet while screaming COCO! COCO! COCO! And while still in my bare feet I ran a block down the street to the major avenue that circles by our neighborhood, a giant lump in my throat growing in anticipation of what I might find. Where is her limp dead body? Where is her limp dead body?

I know this is morbid, but that’s exactly where my brain goes every time we can’t find one of the dogs. Maybe because that’s how my brother’s dog died, maybe because I know so many people who have lost their dogs to cars. And suddenly my head is spinning with scenarios in my brain like, how am I going to wake up tomorrow morning knowing she’s dead? How will I bring myself to put her body in the car and drive her to the vet? How am I going to tell everyone on the Internet who has grown to love her like I do? Despite her poop-eating, barking at leaves, non-stop licking everything ways?

Luckily I didn’t find anything on that road, so I ran back up to the house, shoved on a pair of flip-flops and grabbed a bottle of ibuprofen. We’ve trained the dogs to come running to the sound of pills rattling around in a bottle, and I thought I’d drive around shaking the bottle out the window while calling her name. Jon would stay at the house in case she suddenly showed up. That was the longest car ride of my life, next to being in labor on the way to the hospital. And I know I must have looked completely insane, my head reaching as far out the window as I could stretch it, a bottle of pain meds in my hand, screaming COCO! COCO! COCO!

I imagined a horrified mother playing with her daughter in her driveway saying, “No, sweetie. That’s not some new ice cream truck. Hurry inside and hide.”

I circled and circled the neighborhood: nothing. Again: nothing. Again: nothing. That’s when I started bawling. This is a new neighborhood. She wouldn’t know her way home. What if she tried to run to the old house? I decided I’d drive over to our old neighborhood, but I wanted to touch base with Jon first. As I turned up our street, Jon was standing in the front of our house waving madly at me. That’s when the lump in my throat sunk and hit my heart. I wanted to stop the car right there and never move another inch.

I know this seems ridiculous to people who don’t have pets. It’s just a dog, right? And even though I have kids and know the difference between the love for kids and the love for pets, that difference in no way diminishes the love for pets. We have raised this dog, fed her, treated her when ill, improved her behavior, taken her outside in the middle of the night because that’s what was required. Yes, she is a total shit, but I love her shittiness. She wouldn’t be Coco if she wasn’t a shit.

Turns out she came running home from up the street, prompted by nothing, perhaps unable to find poop to eat in someone else’s yard and remembering all the poop in ours.

And this is where the line between having pets and having kids starts to blur, because when they come home you have to act very happy about it even though your impulse is to call them names and yell hurtful obscenities. DO YOU KNOW WHAT YOU PUT ME THROUGH, YOU SHIT.

I parked that car so fast, ran inside the house, and actually sat on the floor so that she could lick my face with the same mouth she uses to eat all that poop, that is how much I love that dog.

However, that’s another ten years off of my life.

And then later that night Chuck wouldn’t come when called from the back yard. Usual behavior, except this went on and on, and then on and on, and finally Coco had to drag us up to the hole in the fence where he had escaped into the neighbor’s yard. ISN’T THAT FUN. SO FUN. Welcome, broken fence! Meet the sprinkler system! We’ve got a boiler who is dying to meet you!

  • apostate

    2010/08/19 at 12:37 pm

    Glad you found your dog. Yeah, I don’t really get it. I’m not a dog person. It would be over for me after the buckets of diarrhea. Our family had a dog for 72 hours a couple years ago. She was adorable. But every time I went to bed I would have a panic attack over owning a dog. It was like having a newborn again. Finally I took a substancial financial loss and found her a nice home and chalked it up to learning experience. My kids think she went to live back with her mother on a farm.
    But I’m happy for you.

    I wish that many of my neighbors would feel the same sense of trepidation about letting their dogs roam free. I have a hard time believing there are that many “mishaps”.

    I read recently that you shouldn’t remodel a bathroom and add a big tub unless that’s what you really want because more and more people are converting their tubs into walk-in showers. So you shouldn’t do it to add to your home value. I think that’s INSANE. I love my soaker tub.
    I regularly berate people like the Duggars for ruining our earth (Who will survive! Who will survive! Not one of us will be aliiiiiiiiive! jazz hands)
    But I soak in my tub every night. Last night my son came in and had a bowel movement while I was soaking and reading one of 38 BSC books I bought on ebay (thanks for that) so that kind of ruined my bath. I was all “Just ***** forget it!” as I stormed out of our single bathroom dripping water everywhere. But most of the time I love my end-o-day soak and I’m very clean.

  • katliz

    2010/08/19 at 11:04 am

    I live in the city and EVERY SINGLE TIME I hear tires screeching in front of our house, I fear that our dog has been hit on the street. Even though our fence is secure, and the gates are too complicated for him to open, it is this scenario that goes through my head.

    So very happy that all was well. You’re right; the Internet would have been devastated right along with you had the outcome been different.

  • naysway

    2010/08/19 at 11:26 am

    My husband loosely tied our dog to our garage door one morning. Of course, when the dog broke free and wandered off, I tear up and down the streets like a mad woman. Luckily, the dog was in the back yard the entire time, and I never got the opportunity to call that dog a little shit because I was too busy calling my husband one.

    Totally. Understand.

  • mommica

    2010/08/19 at 11:28 am

    If you ever can’t find your dogs, you can have mine. Because I love you THAT much, not because they drive me batshit.

  • lesliepaige78

    2010/08/19 at 11:29 am

    holy poop eater, batman.
    you have alot going on.
    may i ask, did you know all these things were wrong but thought “hey its the perfect house with a great price? we can do these repairs one at a time no problem.”
    moving is so stressful. hope you git er all done before winter so you can just play on the inside till spring again.

  • BlogalaCart

    2010/08/19 at 11:30 am

    omg. you just described how i behave whenever one of our mongrels (two highly obnoxious but highly adorable and loved mutty retrievers) find a ninja escape route from our house. since having a baby, the frequency has gone up. (damn you sleep deprived parent brain!) there’s always lots of ugly crying involved. and driving around the neighborhood, head out the window, screaming the dogs’ names and waving a tennis ball for musk to draw them home. and, EVERY TIME, I envision coming upon their dead, smooshed, bodies and I have officially lost decades off my life from the awfulness of these scares.

    man, being a parent is not for the faint of heart. it’s for the insane who enjoy bodily fluids, grey hair, and heart attacks.

    here’s documentation of one such escape. http://blogalacart.com/2009/08/relief/

  • Crocker

    2010/08/19 at 11:31 am

    Our dogs used to be awesome escape artists. One of the first things my husband did to solidify the fact that I knew I was going to marry him was replace my fence in my old house, then chicken-wire around the entire bottom half of it. When we moved into our new house after we were married, our dream home, we strategically places pots in the holes. Then chicken wired, and replaced the pots for good measure. Every time they escaped I ran screaming, watching their little asses make it around the corner. They’re small but evasive. And no, it doesn’t matter that you know they just ate their weight in shit (theirs and others) once you find them — yay doggie kisses.

    our vet told us to give the dogs a few chunks of canned pineapple each night and it’ll cure them of the poop eating. It worked for a week, at which point I ran out of pineapple and said screw it. But it did work… now we have “poop-hill” on our property…. They love it up there. Ah well, glad you found Coco. Try the pineapple?

  • Kristi

    2010/08/19 at 11:34 am

    Totally, totally understand! The Internet would indeed have bawled big, wet tears if something happened to the little shit!
    <3 you Dooce!

  • lilacrystal

    2010/08/19 at 11:36 am

    I’ve been through it too. Oh Coco I’m so glad you are safe! Extra long soak in the tub tonight for you Heather. Where can you buy such a tub, I wonder? (please tell me if you know)

  • LizandBoys

    2010/08/19 at 11:40 am

    Our first dog was nicknamed Houdini by my dad (that and “attention slut”, but that doesn’t fit into this story). She would squeeze through the tiniest of gaps in our fence (we had to tent peg every section of our fence) and run, run, run…if we found her we had to CATCH her – because all of a sudden, “come” became a game.
    Our 2nd dog was an Aussie and she would always appear on our front doorstep after the chase (of the rabbit, squirrel, small child, mailman…etc..) was over and greet us there with a big dumb-dog smile and a gazillion licks (is that the breed? the drive-by lickings?). I’d almost be in tears, convinced she was dead on the road and she’d be on the front doorstep.

    Our current dog is scared of her own shadow and won’t leave the yard if the gate is left wide open – she’s her own kinda crazy.

  • Gammarific

    2010/08/19 at 11:41 am

    Oh, I know exactly where you are coming from. I have been through this so many times with our two dogs. The last few times they have escaped they have managed to kill a turkey, two ducks and two chickens. They have been picked up by the pound so many times that we have basically used up all of our chances. If they are picked up again we won’t be able to let them outside without being kenneled. It makes me feel like such an irresponsible pet owner, but there is always some circumstance (maintenance guy, wind storm, housesitter, etc.) that leads to them getting out. I can barely sleep at night worrying that they will get out and kill something else and/or get picked up by animal control. I love them and hate them at the same time. Dogs!!!

  • medwards

    2010/08/19 at 11:46 am

    I totally get the panick. We had just moved into our old house and the cable people came to work in the yard and left the gate open. We had a toy poodle that was 12 years old (that I had long before I married my husband) and a mutt that was less than a year. They both got out and we never found my little dog.

    I cried for about a week. I’m glad she’s home safe and sound and that you found the hole Chuck’s discovered so you can keep him home too.

    Don’t you just love home ownership 🙂

  • TexasKatie

    2010/08/19 at 11:53 am

    You so perfectly describe that feeling of horror I get everytime my dog makes a mad dash out the gate of my yard to FREEDOM!!!!! The sheer terror I feel when I see that open gate and no dog in sight is something indescribable. I then end up running the streets, screaming DUCHESSSS! whilst shaking a box of dog biscuits. Sometimes I am in a blue bathrobe and fuzzy slippers while I do this. My neighbors must think I am mad.

    But then when my dog comes bounding around the corner, tongue lolling out of her mouth with a look of “HAHAHAHAHA I TRICKED YOU, SUCKA!” I want to hug her and smack the crap out of her at the same time, but of course I end up hugging her for like twenty minutes until she wriggles away and goes off in the yard to chase squirrels.

    I love my dog.

  • Erika from Canada

    2010/08/19 at 11:54 am

    I was thinking. If you get an evening off sometime soon, you’d love The Money Pit. (Tom Hanks). Maybe you’ve seen it.
    Hilarity at its finest. Tom Hanks manages to laugh like you’re thinking you’d like to right about now. And then Israeli Intelligence comes to the door.

  • kristanhoffman

    2010/08/19 at 11:55 am

    “And I know I must have looked completely insane, my head reaching as far out the window as I could stretch it, a bottle of pain meds in my hand, screaming COCO! COCO! COCO!”

    Despite the tears in my eyes and the knot in my stomach, that image cracked. me. UP!

    Oh Heather, I’m so glad that little shit was okay.

  • JEMajerczyk

    2010/08/19 at 11:55 am

    I’m so happy both Coco and Chuck are safe and sound at home. We lost our sweet puppy Abbey to a car two and a half years ago. We were on a walk when another dog barked and spooked her, her collar broke open, and she ran like hell to make it back to our house. I couldn’t run fast enough to catch her. I think about her all the time.

  • Anu

    2010/08/19 at 12:00 pm

    I’m glad they both are safe and well but good god, that was one hilarious post. LMAO!!

  • The Cat Herder

    2010/08/19 at 12:01 pm

    I totally get the panic and the horror.

    My husband once had a near-fatal asthma attack that resulted in a trip to the hospital in an ambulance. After hours in the ER, he was admitted to the hospital, and I went home to grab a few things.

    Upon arriving home, I discovered the paramedics had left our front door wide open and OUR CATS WERE GONE.

    I drove back to the hospital and sat beside my husband as he weakly recuperated in his hospital bed. I said, “I have some bad news… the cats are gone.” He jumped out of the bed, ran over to the nurses’ station, checked himself out of the hospital against their advice, and drove home wearing only his hospital gown so that the search for the cats could commence IMMEDIATELY.

    Searching for lost pets after a near-death experience? Only a pet owner would understand. (We found ’em about 12 hours later, hiding in the storm drains out by the sidewalk.)

  • ninesandquines

    2010/08/19 at 12:07 pm

    i’m going to puke….omg the feeling in my stomach after reading your description of how it feels….i know it all too well. thank GOD our “scares” have all turned out ok but the worst was when we lost “toad” in the green mountain national forest up in vermont….he took off and was GA-HAWN (that’s like bat out of hell, see ya later, i’m out of here, running faster than a speeding bullet)….we finally found him about an hour later 2 miles down the mountain….he was soaking wet from the rivers and so proud of himself that he “found” us driving down the road calling his name….going to go puke now…bye

  • kgseymour

    2010/08/19 at 12:08 pm

    Even knowing ahead of time how this turned out, I felt sick reading this because those are all the same places my head goes when a dog runs off. And I don’t even bat an eye at the “lick me with the mouth you eat the poop with” because, I don’t know, getting all grossed out about it just started taking a lot of energy. Energy I’ve already used up worrying about them being dead or hurt.

  • kirstanator

    2010/08/19 at 12:10 pm

    So I thought I was the only one who immediately jumped to the morbid scenario when things go wrong. I do it when the dogs go missing but also when my girls don’t answer when I call upstairs to check on them (some mass murderer has slain them or they’re not breathing), when I can’t see them at the park (someone has taken them), when I can’t reach my husband on the cell phone (he’s upside down in a ditch somewhere). It’s terrible. Fortunately I don’t let myself panic over these thoughts and can talk myself down pretty quickly but I hate that my mind goes there first. Hope you’re not as bad as me. 🙂 Glad the dogs are safe. Sorry about the homeowner woes. It’s totally normal though!

  • Meegs

    2010/08/19 at 12:10 pm

    Just re-read what you wrote about your brother’s dog… and now I’m teary-eyed sitting here thinking about anything happening to my beautiful pooch, Daisy. She’s also a black lab, so the picture that post created was a little too vivid. I don’t know what I would do.

    Glad that the pups are okay though!

  • KatR

    2010/08/19 at 12:12 pm

    My dog died on Sunday. Even though she had been sick for awhile, it’s still just as horrible as you think it would be. My advice to all dog owners is this: you know when you are really busy and your dog wants attention and you would usually tell them to go away? Stop and pet them.

  • andreaberg

    2010/08/19 at 12:18 pm

    I have experienced that one to many times. Usually because one of my kids opened the door and basically let him out. And I am always without shoes on and I always go running up and down the street screaming his name. He never comes when I call his name in the house, why do I continually think he will coame when I call his name outside. Somehow we always find him. But man..I just about die each and every time.

  • Schnauzie_Mom

    2010/08/19 at 12:22 pm

    Even the thought of losing my dogs makes me want to throw up. They are my babies. That heart pounding, stomach curling moment when you realize they’ve gotten loose is one of the worst feelings in the world.So glad she is home safe and sound!

  • Mrs. Q.

    2010/08/19 at 12:30 pm

    This brought me back to how my friend’s dogs always got out and would run-run-run. One day we were chasing one of her dogs (in a long line of dogs, because, well, you’ll understand in a second) and it ran out into a main road and SPLAT was hit by a car. Right in front of us. There’s not enough therapy to remove that memory from a ten year-old’s brain.

    I’m so happy there was a much happier outcome for Coco, but I’m thinking now may be the time to invest in an invisible fence and/or some training to help the dogs stay in your yard. For your sanity. Since phantom cats and water leaks are doing a number on you already. (Although the image of you screaming and shaking motrin is pretty funny.)

  • Mrs. Q.

    2010/08/19 at 12:31 pm

    This brought me back to how my friend’s dogs always got out and would run-run-run. One day we were chasing one of her dogs (in a long line of dogs, because, well, you’ll understand in a second) and it ran out into a main road and SPLAT was hit by a car. Right in front of us. There’s not enough therapy to remove that memory from a ten year-old’s brain.

    I’m so happy there was a much happier outcome for Coco, but I’m thinking now may be the time to invest in an invisible fence and/or some training to help the dogs stay in your yard. For your sanity. Since phantom cats and water leaks are doing a number on you already. (Although the image of you screaming and shaking motrin is pretty funny.)

  • TXinUK

    2010/08/19 at 12:52 pm

    When I was six, my family took in a stray dog. We named her Cedar. I don’t remember how long we had her but I do remember coming home from school and not being able to find her one day. When I asked my older brother if he had seen her he said she got hit by the garbage truck. I thought he was just teasing me (again!) until my mom came home later that night and explained that the neighbor had left a note. The garbage men had just scooped up her body and threw in the back of the truck. It seems slightly surreal now but it was over 25 years ago(ugh!) and it was East Texas too.

    I have a pug dog now. He is never more than 10 ft away from me so I’ve never had to worry about him running away.

    Glad that Chuck and Coco are ok!

  • craftyashley

    2010/08/19 at 12:55 pm

    Sprinkler systems suck. We moved into a new house while the rest of the complex was being built. We put in a sprinkler system- digging in the rock hard dirt ourselves- (note to self: hire OTHERS to do landscaping of any sort) and almost every other weekend, a sprinkler head would burst. It was probably days or weeks before we noticed. Usually a large wet patch on the wall was a giveaway. We ended up replacing EVERY SINGLE HEAD over a period of years. If this wasn’t the desert, I would get rid of the system altogether. If we didn’t have kids and dogs who greatly enjoy grass, I would have just put down some rocks and cactus. (neither are very kid-friendly) Next house? Condo. The outdoors are highly overrated.

    And… the last time our rogue dog escaped. I didn’t even notice he was gone, until I got a call from a neighbor. I felt really bad. But to my defense, he’s usually laying under the sofa during the day. (it’s either that or peeing on children’s toys)

  • francabollo

    2010/08/19 at 1:22 pm

    We share the love-of-animals gene so I’m right there with you on this one. The sprinkler, boiler, roof issues? Throw enough money at them and they’ll go away.

  • LynnFlynn

    2010/08/19 at 1:30 pm

    I would feel terrible if something happened to Chuck or Coco. But my boyfriend… he would probably be beyond devastated. He is a 25 year old guy who is in love with your dogs. He visits your websites only to see your dogs. In fact, every Christmas I buy him the Chuck calendar. Glad your little shit made it home safe!

  • ashkanderson

    2010/08/19 at 1:36 pm

    Am I the only one who thinks it’s strange that you have your dogs trained to come to the sound of pills shaking in a bottle? Strange, but I like it.

  • aussome1

    2010/08/19 at 1:50 pm

    We have a white german shepherd who’s favorite thing to do is…RUN! He isn’t so much of an escape artist as he just barrels you over at the door to get out and then he’s gone. When we lived in a neighborhood this always included a game of “Chase” which led me to believe he really didn’t know his name cuz we called and he’d run harder and faster that is, until he was pooped and then he would sit down where ever he was and just wait for us to come get him! The nerve of that dog!! Now however we are fortunate enough to live on 28 acres of land and he can run til his heart bursts and is full of happy doggie contentment…he and our little “diva princess” and australian cattledog run every day now for hours on end. Glad to hear your little shit made it home safe and sound and there is nothing greater than doggie kisses cuz gesh how can you be mad at them when they have that tongue hanging out and are smiling straight at you??

  • sarahfromthenorth

    2010/08/19 at 1:52 pm

    ** tears **

    I have a dog AND kid .. I can totally relate to everything you wrote. Been there, done that.

    And – you really DO love Coco!!!

    All’s well that ends well.

    Sarah mom of a ridgeback and a nine year old boy

  • Deb Haw

    2010/08/19 at 1:57 pm

    I’m so glad you found the dogs and they were all right!
    Love for animals is so similar to our love for our children; you are right.
    I recently lost my persian cat I had for 17 years. I’ve never felt grief that intense in my life. Even typing about it now gives me a lump in my throat, six months after she’s passed away. I had so many friends that just couldn’t relate to my grief and would actually say those words “she was just a cat” to me. I wanted to club these people upside the head, I swear. I was absolutely heartbroken and nobody “got it.” The old adage, “time heals all wounds” has applied, although it sure seemed like I would never get over it for months. I don’t think I ever will be over it, but at least now I can fondly look back at the memories we have of her.
    R.I.P. Chloe (1993-2010)

  • Domestic Goddess

    2010/08/19 at 2:00 pm

    I totally get it! I love my dogs like children. I mean, they rock. They are always there for me when I’m sad, they never tell me I look fat and they listen better than my children. Who could ask for anything more?

    Our current dogs are incredibly well-behaved but we had an old dog (that just died last month) that used to run quite a bit in her younger years. One day in the rain she darted across a busy intersection, me ten feet behind her, right in front of a car that started away from the stop sign. I covered my eyes so I wouldn’t have to see it. She jumped away just in time to get a nasty whack on the hip, which was painful, but she was over it in a few days. Oddly enough, she never ran away again…Hmmm…

    I’d spend all of my money on my dogs if my husband would let me. The hell with the roof and boiler.

  • Sandy_43204

    2010/08/19 at 2:03 pm


    Do they sell home warranties in Utah?

    Just sayin…

  • theurbancowgirl

    2010/08/19 at 2:19 pm


    What a horrible, horrible feeling. I’m so so so glad that Coco was okay!

  • LacubriousOne

    2010/08/19 at 2:33 pm

    It’s not easy to deal with the loss of a pet. I recently wrote about it on the 1 year anniversary of out dear dog Linus’s passing. 🙁


  • Tropical Mum

    2010/08/19 at 2:47 pm

    So glad that you found Coco, and then Chuck. I wouldn’t be able to bear it if anything happened to her. Now that just sounds weird. I have never even met her, but feel like I have.

    Once, we lost our dog when we were miles away from our home. We spent hours looking and eventually went home to start calling radio stations or something, anything. We decided to make one last ditch attempt to find him and returned to the parking lot of the shopping centre where we he took off. Lo’ and behold, there he was approaching the very place where we last saw him. If we had returned to look for him five minutes earlier or five minutes later, this would have been a tale of woe instead of jubilation.

  • IfByYes

    2010/08/19 at 2:52 pm

    Oh man, I have lived through that. Thankfully, I work with dogs so my friends/coworkers all totally understood. When we found the front door open and the dog gone, we freaked out. My dog always comes when called. ALWAYS. So if he wasn’t coming when we called, it mean that he was OUT OF EAR SHOT.

    I called all my friends. Within an hour, three cars had pulled up to my house. The first to arrive was actually a coworker who didn’t even like me, but understood The Crisis Of Missing Your Dog. The last arrive was my friend who had to extricate herself from a Canucks game, which they had been in the third period of when I called. Getting out of downtown after a hockey game is a feat, so I was impressed.

    We roamed the dark streets in the rain for several hours, calling his name in heartbroken tones. I was already mourning my dog. He was dead. He had run up the road and been hit and was bleeding internally in a ditch. He had been eaten by the coyotes who liked to follow us around when we walked him at night. It was like being in a nightmare.

    My husband’s cell phone rang – one of my friends had spotted him in an alley, and he was now safe in her car.

    I broke down and cried, and cried, and cried. Just knowing he was safe made me realize how close we had come. When we got home I grabbed him and squeezed him tight while he squirmed.

    I love that frigging dog.

  • Monday

    2010/08/19 at 3:08 pm

    I would defend your type of dog love insanity any day.

    It’s a real love and the grief is real!
    My dog beloved dog i spent the whole day with every day (I work from home) died in may.

    It sucks!

  • MissLAMS

    2010/08/19 at 3:23 pm

    Dear Dooce, I understand and can sympathize in the worst way. A few months ago an innocent potential-house-buyer arrived late to our Open House, and held the storm door open while asking if he could still come in. The open door = instant “SPRINT! THERE MIGHT BE A SQUIRREL!” cue to my 18-month-old Westie.

    This started a race back and forth across several neighbors’ yards. This is normal. Panic did not set in. I stole the kid next door’s large rubber ball and lured her to me, like normal. She evaded my catch but stayed within 5 feet, like normal. Then a squirrel sprinted across the yard across the street. Towards the woods that happen to loom behind that yard. NOT NORMAL.

    I had to chase my beloved baby dog through the woods. In flip flops (which quickly broke). For an hour. For over a HALF MILE. The entire time I’m calling her and running (and sobbing), I’m thinking “she’s dead she’s dead she’s gone. I’ll never find her. She’s an inside dog she won’t know how to get home. She’s not wearing a dogtag YOU IDIOT why didn’t you buy a dogtag. There are coyotes out here OH MY GOD she’s been eaten.”

    When she finally tired, and realized she was lost, and let me walk toward her and pick her up, I couldn’t even yell at her. Little ho.

  • ktdids

    2010/08/19 at 3:27 pm

    This is precisely why the dog we got after our dog was hit and killed by a car was not a “runner”. The day my dog was hit and killed was horrifying. As you describe, the responsibility is chosen by us and the feeling of failing on that responsibility is worse than the grief over losing your friend/furry child. You never overcome it. I’m glad CoCo and Chuck were safe!

  • wendamatica

    2010/08/19 at 3:56 pm

    Welcome home Coco, we missed you!

    P.S. So happy for you Heather & Jon…there is not such thing as “only” a dog. 🙂

  • tallnoe

    2010/08/19 at 4:01 pm

    Awww, my mom would do the same thing. Glad all is okay.

  • Archives of Our Lives

    2010/08/19 at 4:14 pm

    Huh. And here all this time I thought Coco was a boy dog. This has really shaken my reality. I don’t even know who I am anymore.

  • JodyB

    2010/08/19 at 5:21 pm

    I lost the family dog once. I was in college and had borrowed him for a few days because I wanted to go hiking on the weekend. But my housemate let him out while I was at school and he ran away. We didn’t find him for three days, during which my mother drove the backroads between their home and my school (60 miles), sure he was trying to get back home. Fortunately there was a radio program for lost & found pets; I put his description on it, and someone recognized him and called in. I had this little crappy car that never would go over 40, but I got it up to 70 driving over to where they’d seen him. It’s a good thing I found him because I don’t think I could have ever gone home again if I hadn’t.

    I understand all about dog love. I think it’s the most unconditional form of love we humans ever get to experience. Yes, even more than mother-child. (Witness my mother, who said to me in the middle of this “I wish you’d taken your brother instead.”)

  • Janice

    2010/08/19 at 5:29 pm

    My furry child went on walkabout this past Saturday and was missing for a half hour. Lost ten years off my life. In that time she found these wonderful neighbors who fed her, gave her water and were rubbing her tummy when I walked up.

    The dog is fine, I’ve still not recovered.

    But this house of yours…. are you sure Verizon has the budget to cover all that is wrong? A catholic friend was describing someone to me the other day and said ‘if there were 30 priests, 30 nuns and one serial killer in a room, this person would head right for the serial killer’.

    In the worst market in the history of housing markets, you have picked the serial killer of houses.

  • JamieLea

    2010/08/19 at 7:59 pm

    Seriously, I just went through that same feeling two weekends ago! My husband and father were installing a new storm door on the side of our house. My dad asked if he could let the dogs out back…which of course, why couldn’t they go out back? That’s where they do their business. Anyway, before he opened the door I asked him if the gate was shut, in which he said yes. I heard the sliding glass door open and both of our dogs shove their giant bodies through at the same time when I heard my dad say, “Oh, I guess it’s not shut”. Insert: panic! I heard Jake scream, “Parker!” from inside the house and I bolted out the door and literally heard Jake bloodcurdlingly scream his name again as he crossed the busy street at the end of our street. I imagined the exact same thing you did…Parker’s dead body in the middle of the street. I rounded the corner to see the last part of Jake running after Parker. He ran through a park, down two residential blocks and finally ended up about 5 blocks away…tired from running and lying down by the ice cream shop. I did the same thing though…ran out bare feet across the street to the park, where I couldn’t see them any more…and back to the house and jumped in the car looking for them. I forgot to grab my cell phone (which would have been really helpful) when I left in the car looking for them. Jake ended up borrowing some stranger’s phone at the ice cream shop to call me and pick him up. Good thing I went back the house to check to see if they had shown back up. All the while, my other dog, Hayden was just sitting in the backyard. We just rescued Parker 3 weeks ago and we were told he liked to run…and this was very true!

    Also, I bawled when I read your brother’s story about Pepper. Pepper looks like Parker…but Parker just has a little while on his chest. He is a black lab and something else…but mostly looks like a lab other than the white. And our other dog is a chocolate lab. The best dogs in the world and I would die if we lost one of them in such a tragic way.

    I am so glad Coco is safe, even though she eats shit (our chocolate lab does too and I still give him kisses)! : )

Heather B. Armstrong

Hi. I’m Heather B. Armstrong, and this used to be called mommy blogging. But then they started calling it Influencer Marketing: hashtag ad, hashtag sponsored, hashtag you know you want me to slap your product on my kid and exploit her for millions and millions of dollars. That’s how this shit works. Now? Well… sit back, buckle up, and enjoy the ride.

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