In my last post I asked, “Can we possibly run enough to satisfy this dog?” Apparently not, because Friday morning as the girls went out the door to wait for the bus, Loki shot past them and bolted at an astonishing rate of speed past the neighbor’s house toward the woods.
Colleen dropped her book bag and went after him, but she couldn’t get anywhere near him or entice him to return before the bus arrived. Bob and Ben had to leave, Rowan wasn’t home from her overnight work shift yet, and Loki had a 5-minute head start before I even realized what was going on.
I put on my trail shoes and ran over to the gravel road where we’ve been taking him for walks and runs in his first week with us, thinking he might head that way. On our most recent run together he hadn’t been urging me to go faster so much as urging me to let him go offroad and explore.
Sure enough, as I crossed the tracks and trotted along a short side road he shot into view, chasing a neighbor’s cat. Then he left both of us in the dust as he zipped off in another direction to do more exploring.
There was obviously no way I could catch him. I headed down the gravel road, thinking that after he got over his initial excitement he might join me on a run we’d done a couple of times together in the week since Rowan brought him home from a rescue organization.
It seemed to work – sort of. He’d circle back within 30 feet of me, then shoot off again. It was scary how fast this dog can move. He’d be a quarter-mile away in just a few seconds. He’d enter a scrap of woods and then a few seconds later I’d see him in a completely different location, as if he were traveling by Star Trek transporter.
Was he toying with me? Or was he so high on his newfound freedom that he was only vaguely aware of my existence?
I finished that “run,” repeated another segment, then turned my head to see Rowan turning onto the far end of the road. Finally I relaxed, thinking he might come to her. When she got to where I was, I motioned where I’d last seen Loki.
But suddenly it was like he’d vanished. I ran up and down the road but detected no movement on either side. Rowan drove a couple of miles in all directions and didn’t see a trace.
I spent the rest of the morning “going offroad” around the neighborhood, exploring fields and woods I’d never even noticed in the 14 years we’ve lived here. (Has it really been that long? Yes, it has.)
At one point I came across a stream with a ladder for a bridge. Not trusting my balance, I crossed on all fours. I made my way into yet another woods I’d never noticed before – and realized how long it’s been since I tried to make my way through a forest that had no obvious path. Just getting from here to there without getting hung up in brush or head-high tangles of fallen trees was like working a puzzle. Unless I went back the way I came, I’d have to cross the stream again. It took a long time to find a crossing place where the bank wasn’t impossibly steep on the other side.
It would’ve been quite the adventure if I hadn’t been heartsick the whole time. I’d check in every so often with Rowan and her friend Mary, who were searching by car and passing out fliers. As hours went by without a recent sighting, I began to lose hope – even as I assured our oldest daughter that Loki “was sure to turn up.”
When the girls returned from school Colleen told me her friend had a lost dog once that turned up 5 miles away from home. That gave us a glimmer of hope. But it was also demoralizing, because if Loki was in roaming mode there was no telling how many miles he could cover.
I had to run an errand in Bluffton, then head to Fort Wayne. I put a stack of fliers in the car. When I stopped back at home in between, I saw Rowan’s friend Mary had returned – and parked her car in a weird spot in the driveway, almost like she was trying to hide her presence.
When I went in the house, I saw why. She’d gotten a call from the animal shelter that a neighbor had managed to trap Loki in his garage. Knowing Rowan had cried herself to sleep after working all night and searching all morning, Mary had snuck into the house with the missing husky and they’d both bounded in to surprise Rowan.
The girls were still wiping tears of joy off their cheeks when I arrived. And Loki was wagging his tail happily. I don’t think he regretted his hours-long romp through the countryside, but he was clearly happy to see us again, too.
Now I’m thinking we not only need to make sure this dog gets enough mileage in everyday, but make sure we take him off-road for some trail exploration as well.
Welcome back, Loki. You’re a handful, but you feel like a game-changer of a dog for our family.