It was a helluva 24 hours.
It started when I went for a quick jog with my dogs on wildlife management land a few miles from home. A beautiful fall day until my black lab, Ruby, disappeared somewhere along the Iowa River.
I called and called, retraced my steps, and circled back. All to no avail. I was now late for work at the local coffeehouse.
When finished there, I raced home and saddled Pep. I figured we could cover more ground than on foot and, of course, we’d have greater access than if I drove.
We jogged and galloped to the river where I’d last seen the dog. Pep was sweaty but game, munching grass while I paused to call my boyfriend. Steve hoped to saddle up and help when he returned home from work.
“Ok, just call me and we’ll meet somewhere out here,” I said.
Less than two hours of daylight remained. Pep and I split a granola bar before getting back on the trail. We galloped another mile, skirting the Iowa and watching for a familiar black canine. At a bend in the path, I eased up and reached around to use my phone.
It had fallen out of my saddlebag.
We about-faced and trotted slowly towards our last resting spot, scanning the ground (Pep was looking for it, too, I’m sure.).
We met a fisherman and his young son. After hearing the pitiful story, he lent me his phone so I could call mine.
Lost Dog. Lost Phone. We called and cruised back and forth for another hour.
By now, it was getting dark. We were still four miles from home, dogless and phoneless. Heads bowed with fatigue and frustration, we loped back to the farm. Pep got lots of rubs and treats before I turned her back out to the herd.
I borrowed Steve’s phone and glumly returned to the river with a headlamp and a beer. For another hour, I walked, hearing coyotes in every direction. They eat dogs, ya know?
Finally, I heard something upbeat – my own annoying ringtone. I grabbed it out of the weeds. 77 missed calls.
The next morning, I called shelters and posted Lost Dog signs on stop signs and telephone poles.
In the afternoon, a man called me:
“Does your dog have a green collar?”
“She’s at my neighbors”
I raced to the address. No one was home. But there in the driveway was a scraggly, old black lab with a green collar. Decidedly not Ruby.
I trudged back down the dirt driveway, thinking how the coincidence would be hilarious if it weren’t so darn cruel. Just as I was getting back in the car, Ruby came bounding around corner of the mobile home.
All’s well. Ends well.
Thanks, Pep, for being part of it.