|I'm not really choking her. I'm just so happy to have her back safe and sound!|
It was as simple as going to church Sunday night and saying goodbye to Gracie, then coming home a little over an hour later and realizing she was REALLY gone. Her gate was wide open, so I can only assume that Nancy's 4-year-old let her out. But that wasn't really the problem. Gracie has gotten out a lot of times - we went through a period of time when she wouldn't stop chewing through the wire of the fence. She always sat at the back door until someone noticed her and let her in. She never had any inclination to go visit a neighboring dog or explore the acres of woods that surround the house.
But this is deer hunting season, and Sunday is a prime hunting day. Last Sunday, the hunters were really close to the house, and their shots sounded really loud as they echoed through the trees. And Gracie has always been "gun-shy." I believe that she may have been sitting at the back door waiting for someone to notice her when the hunters started firing (Ronnie and the teen boys heard them from inside the house). I know from experience that a sudden, loud, noise like a gunshot will make Gracie bolt.
Over the next four days, Nancy, Ronnie, the kids, and I spent hours upon hours combing the woods behind the house and putting up posters all over the town and even into the next state (we live close to the border). I spent a lot of money on gas and followed up on lead after lead as people called in to say they thought they had spotted her.
Wednesday evening I had 200 "lost dog" flyers made, and Thursday morning Nancy and I spent a few hours going door to door asking people if they had seen Gracie and giving them a flyer.
Our prayers were answered late Thursday afternoon, when a young woman from church happened to driving down our street about 1/4 mile down the road from us and spotted Gracie in the woods. She had never seen Gracie before, but recognized her from the fliers I had handed out at church Wednesday night. I was out of town, but Nancy and my niece went immediately to start searching the woods. However, it's almost impossible to say where exactly in the woods you saw something, unless you mark a tree with a big red "x" or something. Luckily, the woman came back and pointed out the exact spot, and my niece was able to find Gracie without any more trouble.
Poor Gracie, who was already a shy dog, was curled in a ball, shaking from head to toe. She was very subdued after we brought her home. She has lost a few pounds and was extremely thirsty. She kept drinking water every little bit for the rest of the night.
Normally, Gracie stays outside and we bring her in twice a day (for about an hour at a time) to eat and socialize. But for now, she's inside full-time - at least until our nerves calm down and I get a lock for that gate.
We didn't need any more loss in our lives, and are thanking God for blessing us with Gracie's safe return. Nancy and Ronnie were really great about helping make and hang posters and providing emotional support, too. Our bible study group prayed for Gracie Wednesday night. And of course, I had to take a "thank you" pie and brownies to Nezzie, whose sharp eyes spotted Gracie, and her mother, Lisa, who ran in her socks through the rain to get to our front door and bang on it to let us know Nezzie had seen Gracie.
When it comes to finding a scared, lost, dog... it really does take a village.
|Yes, I am making "kissy faces!"|