It rained hard Wednesday night and into Thursday. By noon Thursday the rain had let up some but the wind had picked up. Cooler weather was on the way and Friday it was supposed to be near freezing. I got home close to six on Thursday and the Cousins weren’t at the gate barking their fool heads off. I thought I had sneaked up on everyone and all four dogs had gone to sleep on the porch. Tyger Linn appeared out of the woods that are inside of the fence but the Cousins, and Lilith Anne Magnolia Mutt did not. Three out of four dogs were gone. This was bad.
The Cousins had dug out before but they always hung around. Lilith had never left. My first reaction was one of anger. They had to be close and there would be no treats for anyone when I found them and I might even make them sleep outside. I tromped around the property, found where the Cousins had dug their way out, and the footprints went everywhere. I followed as best I could but they lead everywhere and they lead nowhere.
After dark I drove around looking for some sign but everywhere I went there were tracks of dogs, some dogs, my dogs, who knows whose dogs, but there was no sign of Cousin Dogs, or of Lilith. Anger melted away into concern and concern became worry. I went to bed and hoped to hear the sound of Lilith’s nails on the door. At three the Cousins returned but they were without my Little Girl Dog.
Lilith is the one who doesn’t like to go outside in the rain and who will walk around mud puddles and would just rather not do the outdoors thing at all. She wants me to hold the umbrella over her when she pees in the rain. She likes her spot on the sofa and her spot on the bed. At three in the morning I realized Lilith was spending the night outside in the cold and wet, and worry was beginning to edge into despair.
I had two meetings Friday morning that I could not miss but I was back at home by nine. Lilith was not there to greet me. I began a foot search that would last three hours and cover most of the area around my house. I drove the roads and looked in the ditches for her body. I started making phone calls and sending out emails, and I started stopping and talking to people in their yards.
Saturday I built a fire. Lilith loved to sit by the fire and I though the smoke might draw her in. Friday night had been a very long night. If Lilith was still in the woods, she was partially protected by the Cousins Thursday night but Friday she would be alone and the Coyotes would kill her. If I heard them howling I intended to go after them, and I meant to kill as many of them as I could if they hurt Lilith. I built a fire Saturday and I walked. There was nothing. Despair became wrapped in guilt and covered with horrible resignation. If Lilith wasn’t being actively protected she was in danger of being killed or shot or kidnapped by dog fighters. Saturday night I slept on the sofa to be closer to the door and my sister opened up a five hundred dollar reward. People started calling me to ask where she might be. I had no idea but I did know where I wanted people to look.
Saturday night I went out into the woods and screamed her name out into the darkness. All the emotions now boiled down into one; Find that Girl Dog. Sunday morning I go up and I walked then I drove and then I came home and I waited.
Oddly, the one person I hadn’t been able to reach was a man who owns a hunting lodge near my house. I called him again Monday morning and couldn’t get him. I called him Monday afternoon, and no, he had not seen her. But, he added, I’ll call around.
Fifteen minutes later he called me back. Someone on FB had posted something about someone finding a dog near where I lived. He didn’t know the people who posted it but he knew someone who did. A friend of a friend of a friend… But it was all I had. Five minutes later he called again. Someone who knew someone who had found a dog matching Lilith’s description was going to call me if it was okay to give my number out. Ten minutes later a woman called me and told me out on Hickory Head Road someone in a brick house had found a dog but she was at work. I got into the truck and started driving. Hickory Head Road is close, a couple of miles at the most, and the site she described was only a couple of miles more. I stopped at a house and the man who answered the door said, yes, he had seen the dog, but it was next door.
I walked to the next house and it was a brick house, and I called out her name, “Lilith Anne!” and nothing. I stopped, and I called out again, “Lilith Anne!” and I heard a noise. It was a whiney yipping noise and Lilith came around the corner of the house, alive, alive, alive, alive, alive, alive, alive, alive, and she was running so hard and wagging so hard she nearly fell. I hugged her and she licked my face and she whined and yipped, and I had my Little Girl Dog back with me and she was alive.
Lilith was in great shape but I could tell she had begun the descent into homelessness. She had ticks on her and she has never had a tick before. There’s a rash on her belly running onto one of her legs and there’s various very small cuts and scratches. The stress of losing her family, her pack, and her home, had begun to wear her down. This is why stray dogs look the way they do. It’s traumatizing for them to be where they are and not where they should be; at home with a family.
At any given time during all of this, I was one person away from being connected to people who knew where Lilith was. If I could have found the right person Friday then Lilith would have been home that very day. The thing here is that as big of a time drain FB might be, if I had been on that site I might have found her sooner or someone might have found me sooner. The biggest and most important tool in Dog Rescue remains the Book Of Faces.
To the people out there who network out trying to reunite dogs and their families you will never know how grateful I am at this very moment for the people who brought Lilith Anne Magnolia Mutt back home to me.