lost dog

Last night we lost one of our dogs, our ancient, inbred, rather repulsive border collie. He has a terror of thunder, and yesterday, during a brief storm which had maybe four claps of thunder and five minutes of rain, he burst through two gates in panic and ran through the neighborhood looking for safe harbor — or so we surmise from past experience, as this is something he’s done before. This time, though, no kind neighbor took him in. It’s been over twenty four hours and there have been no sightings of him.

I may have spent the past five years, give or take a few, openly mocking and maligning the dog, but I am genuinely stricken by his loss, and I feel quite guilty about it. My father and I were out running errands — or rather, we were hanging out at Starbucks caffeinating ourselves to prepare for errand running. We heard the thunder and exchanged glances of worry. We walked to the door, looked out the window, waited for more thunder, considered racing home to bring the dog inside, and, since the sky seemed to have stopped at four claps of thunder, shrugged and went back to our coffee and our errands. When we returned home, we found my dog on the front porch, patiently waiting for us, with no sign of Pepper.

As I mentioned, Pepper is a very old dog. He wasn’t much to begin with — he is, and I say this with complete earnestness and political correctness, truly retarded. That famous border collie intelligence? Not at all present in this guy. Dogs don’t need to be smart to be good, but Pepper also has the unfortunate personality of a pervy old man. As he’s aged, his personality flaws have been amplified by his physical decline: he is overweight and arthritic; he looks mange-ridden because his hair only grew back in scraggly patches after his summer shave; and, worst of all, he has been completely incontinent for the past four months. My parents were planning to have him put down before the winter: we can’t keep him inside anymore, and even if he weren’t too seriously balding to keep outdoors in the cold we wouldn’t do it — Wyoming winters are too cruel for a dog to be outside in all hours of the day and night. Even though we all know he was going to be leaving to doggy heaven anyway in a few months, the loss of him is pretty staggering. We all expected him to live out his last days surrounded by comfort and my mother’s love (because even though my father and I have never hesitated in making him the constant butt of our jokes, my mother loves the dirty little guy, and he adores her). The thought of him wandering around town, hungry and frightened, too stupid to know the way home, is upsetting.

Today my dad put an ad in the newspaper. He and I spent a good half hour trying to describe him in a way that wasn’t completely unkind. My suggestion, rejected: “LOST: fat, old, balding, smelly, male border collie with soul-sucking eyes and an apparent bad case of mange. May or may not answer to the name of Pepper. Generally disgusting, but missed very much.”

The eventual paraphrase: “LOST DOG: Pepper, male border collie, plump, patchy, and elderly. If found, please call ###”

None of us are very hopeful at this point. The more time that goes by, the less chance that he’ll make it back to us. We live between a desert and a train yard — there are coyotes, cars, and the very real probability that he’ll have a heart attack in one of the thunder storms that seem to constantly hang over town this month — what are the chances that one ancient, scared, stupid old dog can survive for long out there?

It just seems so unfair, so cruel. This is not how he’s supposed to go.

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~ by Not Alice on July 19, 2007.

One Response to “lost dog”

  1. I’m really sorry. It’s startling how something like this can affect us in ways we never anticipated. Do let us know if the old coot makes it home, though, would you?

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