I received that life-jolting text message from Shannon this past Tuesday at 11:32 AM while at work.
Here’s the semi-short version…
Cali [our 2 year old yellow lab] has been in foster care for the past few months [and the following episode is probably the canine equivalent of acting out!]. Since our Texas departure in early August, Cali has been under the direct supervision of a team of dog-sitters including Jeff Ward, Terry Ferguson, Sara Pierce [and Tanner!] and Paul, Stacey, Hayden, Preston and Kellen McKee. She‘s run the social gamut, from long hours of lonely downtime at home to exploring the McKee compound with two new companions, Jake and Dani [see grainy pic below…Cali is the one on the left looking a little underwhelmed].
So we did the grand reunion bit last Saturday AM at Paul McKee’s office and Cali made the 1,000 trek to Chicago with us flawlessly. She reconnected with Lexie in the cab of the U-haul, spent the night in our room at the incredibly pet-friendly Drury Inn in Springfield, MO and never made a peep during the 33 pit stops along the way. We arrived safely Sunday night and she spent the day Monday hanging by my side as we unloaded the van and trailers. Good times.
That gets us to this past Tuesday. I was back at work and Cali was tethered to the swing set in Aunt Phyllis’ backyard with a rope. For the record, I gave the go-ahead to use a rope Lexie had found a few weeks earlier. [I’m the girl genius’ daddy!] No bueno! She chewed her way to freedom by mid-morning and the chase was on. By the time I arrived around Noon, Cali was long gone. Both the neighborhood and the neighboring dogs were eerily quiet.
So Shannon’s dad and I split up and searched a 3-mile radius around the house for about 45 minutes and saw/heard nothing…but I felt plenty…primarily a nauseating feeling that Cali was a] wounded on the side of a road breathing her last, 2] yukking it up with her new family, or 3] somewhere wandering through a distant corn field cursing her goofball master.
After talking to several neighbors and retracing my path several times, I headed back toward the house. And there she was! 4 houses down from Aunt Phyllis’, near the street, playing in the ditch, filthy from head to toe. Cue the theme song from Chariots of Fire. I parked in the middle of the street and, when Cali saw me, she sprinted to my door and pounced on the side of the little red truck. See the reunion prints below.
I really can’t effectively detail the next few moments; the emotions are still too raw. And there are some confidentiality issues I don’t feel free to compromise. But, needless to say, we were both happy to find each other.
It was a beautiful ending to a traumatic episode in the life of Cali Belle Williams and her doofus caretaker. Lesson learned. Lost dog found. Cali and Me movie rights available to the highest bidder.