F is for Found!

Mia at the Lake

Last weekend we took the dogs to Rob’s parents’ for a hot tub. (We were going to hot tub; the dogs were going to hang out on the deck.) After parking the car, I opened the back door and unhooked Mia from her tether, letting her hop out of the car off-leash. I actually said, “This is because I trust you.”

I was working on unhooking Leo when he started to bark.

“Oh shit, there’s a deer,” Rob said.

I looked up and saw a deer racing down the street, with Mia hot on its tail. I closed the car door with Leo still inside as Rob chased after Mia.

She’ll be right back.

After about a minute, I got back in the car and drove down the street where I found Rob still calling her name. Mia had run out of his sight by the time he rounded the corner, probably into the woods, but who knew where the deer had gone? How far Mia would follow?

Rob went into the woods looking for her. I drove through 5 pm traffic to the other side of the woods with Leo, calling her name while Leo barked, in hopes that she would hear one of us and come running.

Mia is the kind of dog who sticks right with you. She is 90 percent reliable on leash. The other 10 percent is what happens when she sees another animal.

She knows this neighborhood. She’ll find her way back to Grandma’s house.

As five minutes stretched into an hour, my confidence wavered and I shivered from the cold coming through my open car windows. Would she try to make it back to our house? Should one of us wait there?

We posted her picture on a couple of community Facebook pages. I wrote something coherent like “Our dog Mia chased after a deer. She is a German shepherd and her name is Mia.”

One of the photos we posted on Facebook. Taken by Jolene Hanson for The Crossing Guide.
One of the photos we posted on Facebook. Taken by Jolene Hanson for The Crossing Guide.

She had to be in those woods somewhere. Was she hurt? Had she fallen down a slope or into a creek?

The only thing we could do was go back into the woods to look for her with Leo. I left my car in the driveway with the tailgate open, in case Mia got back before we did. I pictured her hopping in to wait for us. I had my cell phone. If someone found her, they would call the number on her tag.

A few steps onto the trail, I let Leo bark at a couple of guys and Rob told them we were looking for our dog. A man and woman with a baby in a bjorn passed and I let Leo bark at them too.

“Our dog does the same thing,” the woman said.

“We’re looking for our other dog. She looks like him, and is wearing a pink harness. She’s really friendly,” I added, as Leo continued to bark.

We reached a fork in the trail that Rob had already searched.

We heard yelling.

“What?” Rob called back.

“Your dog’s over here!”

And there Mia was, looking a little sheepish, soaking wet. Rob got to her first, so all I saw was her wagging tail behind him.

I think she did find herself in a bit of trouble, maybe ran too far into the woods and took a while getting back. Or maybe she had to climb back up a cliff. Either way, I’m pretty sure it was Leo’s Big Boy Bark that let her know where to find us.

The tightness in my chest released and that’s when tears almost came. I knew she’d be back.

Rob dries Mia off after her adventure in the woods.

Rob dries Mia off after her adventure in the woods.

For the A to Z Challenge, I’m using all positive language in my posts. Find out how I discovered the benefits of positive reinforcement training in my book, Bark and Lunge!

F

This is a belated entry into the Monday Mischief Blog Hop… because Mia’s behavior earned it! Thanks to Alfie’s BlogSnoopy’s Dog Blog, and My Brown Newfies for hosting.

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14 thoughts on “F is for Found!

  1. Great story and im glad she came back. So difficult to get them to listen when something far more interesting is distracting them! My labradoodle really tries to listen but you can just see that sometimes the wide open world with all these wonderful smells and moving creatures just gets the better of him. So far, like with yours, he has come back, almost apologetic. Lets just hope it stays that way!

  2. my heart beats too, glad you got them back… Welcome in the letter “F”… thank you!
    Jeremy [Retro]
    AtoZ Challenge Co-Host [2015]

    There’s no earthly way of knowing.
    Which direction we are going!

    HOLLYWOOD NUTS!
    Come Visit: You know you want to know if me or Hollywood… is Nuts?

  3. My heart tightened when I read this post too, Chyler is exactly the same way. She is 90% reliable off leash and she sticks right by our heels, and the 10% is when she sees a squirrel or a bird. Then it’s like all sense and reason flies out of her and she’s off like the wind. We had this happen once at a park. One minute she’s right next to us, the next minute all we could see was her flying tail as she ran after something we couldn’t see out of the park and onto the street. My heart flew out of my chest with her and all I could think was that she’s going to get knocked over. Since then I daren’t let her off leash within sight of the road. If we are on a hiking trail, and she takes off like this, we usually don’t worry too much because she always finds her way back to us as long as we don’t move too far from where she took off from.

    We are working on getting her to stay even in sight of another animal. Sometimes if we shout “No” in time, she listens…

  4. FOUND is such a great word! Nothing makes your heart drop faster than not knowing where your dog is.

  5. Oh my goodness…this is my biggest fear! (and one that’s played out a couple of times with Ruby, though thankfully only for ten or fifteen minutes) I would be an absolute WRECK if I lost sight of her for an hour. My dog Lasya disappeared from my ex-husband’s back yard (at the house we previously owned together) while I was there house-sitting. She was gone for about an hour, too, while I went back to my house to make flyers and drove all over the neighborhood inquiring after her. She wasn’t even wearing a collar. It turned out that she managed to open and then close herself in the shed in the back yard…it would have been nice of her to BARK when I was calling her name over and over! I know all too well the panic and subsequent relief you felt upon your reunion with Mia.

    • I had this tiny hope that I’d accidentally closed her in the garage when I drove off after Rob… I can’t imagine what it’s like for people who have to wait days to reunite (or worse, never find their doggies). Rob planned to sleep outside his parents’ house waiting for her. I held it together pretty well… but if we hadn’t found her by dark, I would have started to lose it.

  6. Oh man, that is always scary! Your dogs are gorgeous! We live out in hill country north of San Antonio, and deer are EVERYWHERE. I’m embarrassed to say but there is no way I can walk my dog on a leash out here without him pulling with all 70 lbs. of him. So glad your sweet dogs are with you now!

    • Stay tuned for Thursday’s post about Harnesses! They really help train dogs not to pull. But if you can have your dog off leash safely, that’s even better.

  7. I had my heart in my mouth throughout this post! That is the scariest thing, the thought of losing my dog makes me shudder. We never let our Husky off leash – I mean Never, ever except in a secured dog park. She has a prey drive and Huskies are known to take off so I’m really conscious about it. I’m so glad you found Mia before anything bad happened! I’ll be you gave her the biggest hug ever!
    Love & Biscuits,
    Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them

    • We can’t stop talking about it! Saying things like “Mia, don’t ever do that again,” and “Mia, what would we do without you?” She also got a bath when we got home and was fresher and softer than she’s ever been!

  8. OMG. That’s so scary. I always worry about my greys running off since they can hit 45 at three strides. I’m so glad you found her….phew!

  9. Oh goodness. What a scary story – but so glad for a happy ending. But this is why I never trust Rita. I’m sure I could open the garage door and let her get in the car while the door is opening (she’s not a runner like our other dogs were) BUT… one of these days, I know there’d be a time when the neighbor’s cat or something else happened to saunter by as i opened the door and she’d take off after it. She’s not much of a runner, so I’d probably catch her, but I’m too much of a worrywart to take a chance! The *only* time I let her off leash is when we pull up in front of her best friends’ houses, and I look around and make sure no one else is around. Then I open the door and she FLIES out of the car, racing for the gate. Sorry for writing a novella. Anyway, hooray for Mia being found and looking sheepish. 🙂

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