The dogs were lounging on the deck. I was inside the house, working in my study, which is on the opposite side of the house. I was on the phone, leaving my number with the receptionist at Bronco headquarters, casually inquiring for the tenth time about when to expect John Fox to call to congratulate me about getting picked in the NFL draft. I had to cut it short with the Bronco call when my cell phone buzzed and Miss Sugar’s face appeared. She is a priority, so I jeopardized my NFL career by taking her call.
As we chatted, I walked around the house. I looked at the deck. The dogs were not there. I looked down by the river. The dogs were not there. I did not mention to Sugar that I was panicking because I did not want to alarm her. I thought I would likely find the dogs before her return.
After ending the call, I went to the barn. The horses greeted me. No dogs were in sight.
I walked about a mile along the river, where there are trees. I called and called for Beau and Sadie. Neither came.
I went back to the house, hoping they beat me back. I decided to call Sugar. I confessed that I had lost our beloved Sadie and the other dog, Beau. She instructed me to look for them along the river. I told her that I had done that before calling her. I had also driven along the road. She told be to go back to walk where I already had. So I did. For the second time I walked about a mile out and another mile back. That is two miles twice. On my bum knees.
I drove to the highway, a mile away. No dogs on the road. No corpses in the highway.
I parked the truck and climbed over a locked gate where the ditch rider for the irrigation company can drive along the irrigation ditch through our neighbor’s ranch. I walked another two miles or more, calling every few seconds the names of each dog. “Sadie, come sweetie. Here Sadie. Beau, get your sorry tail back here.” Over and over. I was getting hoarse and thirsty.
Sugar was back home. How did I know? She called me on my cell. By then I was by the lake, far from the road. There were ducks on the lake. I had also scared up a mallard by the river. Surely, this is where I would go if I was a bird dog running away from home.
Sugar said, “Ray came over with our dogs in the back of his pickup. He said they followed him when he was walking along the river with some company who wanted to see the place. The dogs went along for the hike and then went home with him.”
Ray lives on the other side of Deadman’s Butte on a big ranch adjacent to us. We can’t see their house, but they are our nearest neighbors.
“So,” Sugar said, “you can come back now. They are safe.”
“I will be home in about an hour. I have to walk back from the lake.”
“Do you want me to drive over to get you?” Sugar offered.
“You can’t drive here. The gate to the ditch road is locked.”
She said, “Let me ask Ray if there is a way to drive there.”
“No. Don’t ask. I already know there isn’t.”
“Ray said you will have to walk out of there.”
So I walked back, like I thought and like Ray affirmed.
I figger I walked about ten miles altogether looking for those precious pets.
Labs are “people dogs” they say. They are very friendly. Today they were too friendly.
I’m thinking of trading them in on some mean guard dogs.
They consented to being dog-napped, so I can’t blame Ray. At least he brought them back.
I suppose that is a good thing. Isn’t it?