When we embarked on our 21-day cross-country-road-trip, my stomach was in its usual state of turmoil. Not just because of all the planning, packing, and apprehension about road conditions and weather, but also because of past experiences with theHansMan and his inability to understand that "dogs will run away."
Several days before our departure, I gently placed my thumb and pointer fore trigger-finger on his face in the general vicinity of where dimples might be located. Appying just a little pressure, I positioned his head so that he could look directly into my eyes as I implored to him, "Please. Please. Please understand that I do not want to lose our dogs on this trip. When we take them on potty breaks, they will have on their harnesses and will be on their leashes. When you are with them at your parents' home, they cannot just be let outside. You must supervise them and know their whereabouts at all times. This is not their home. It is no different than just letting them out of a motel room and expecting them to come back thirty minutes later when you call for them. "
As I tightened the 'grip' on his face, I then asked, "DO YOU UNDERSTAND?"
He replied in his usual, non-chalant manner when I'm trying to make a point about any subject, "I know. I know."
Hoping to stress my point just a little further, I then asked, "Can you imagine losing them somewhere on the road between here and Georgia and having to just leave that place not knowing what happened to them?"
This seemed to have made an impact on him as he did give that question some thought.
As I released the grip on his face, the dimples indentations on his face slowly disappeared.
Our visit in Oklahoma went without incident. Except for the day we were to leave and head to Georgia.
My worst fears came true.
Lola and Ginger went missing.
I had spent the night with the grandkids, and theHansMan stayed at his parents' home with the three dogs.
He let June Bug, Lola, and Ginger outside and then proceeded to shower, get ready, and pack for the trip. Quite some time later when he called the dogs, only one, June Bug, showed up. This was about 8:00 a.m., or possibly earlier.
When I arrived to pick him up and continue on to Georgia, it was about 10:00 a.m. And cold !
My search for them began by walking the streets of the neighborhood, then driving the streets farther into the neighborhood, and also, checking the two busy streets that bordered that neighborhood. One of those 'streets' was a major highway and the other one of the busiest five-lane streets in town.
A message had been left on our home answering machine from a gentleman who had spotted them crossing that highway and ended up in a church parking lot. He had tried to hang on to Ginger, but because she only had on a collar, she pulled away from him. Thank goodness she didn't pull out of her collar that had all the contact information on it. If only she had had on that harness, he could have hung onto her. He was able to get the phone number off her collar before she bolted out of his grasp.
At that point, he said, she and Lola crossed back across that highway chasing a crow.
My emotions ran the gamut and swung back and forth like a pendulum.
Of course, fear was the first. What if we never found Lola and Ginger ? How could we leave this town without knowing where they were or what had happened to them ?
At the same time, anger swelled up into every cell of my being toward theHansMan causing the tears to flow. I kept hearing that speech I had given him before we left on this trip. "Do you understand?" resonated in my head.
While walking the streets, calling for my dogs, my fingertips became numb from the cold, sadness overtook me, then my whole body became numb.
Where were my dogs ? Were they still together ? Were they alive ?
Seems as if every scenario possible attacked my brain at the same time. Maybe they got into someone's car and that person would just keep them. What if they were hit by a car on that busy highway where they were last seen ? What if I never saw them again and never knew what happened ?
Everytime I tried to be optimistic by anticipating how happy they would be once we found them, and how overjoyed I would be, reality set in.
It had been over FOUR hours.
Our desperate hunt for them crossed that highway into other neighborhoods as we continually checked those two busy streets in case they were lying there dead.The speed limit on that highway where they had been spotted was FIFTY miles per hour. How could anyone stop if one of them darted in front of a car ?
The cell phone rang !
The roaring in my ears almost exploded my head !
HansMan answered, and I held my breath.
It was the same gentleman who had left the message just asking if we had found them yet.
My chest hurt as if someone had kicked the breath out of me.
Within a few seconds, the cell phone rang again.
This is what I heard:
Two Boxers ?
You have them ?
Where are you ?
We're on our way !
It never entered my mind that one or both of them could be injured. Or dead. I could only visualize those stubby little tails wiggling as they made that 'Boxer-C', and curling around my legs. Licking my face and covering it with doggy-kisses.
No, it didn't. That never entered my mind.
Lola and Ginger had traveled almost two miles from my in-laws' house. This is not taking into consideration all their back-tracks and other places they had visited. No telling how many actual miles their adventure took them on.
The gentleman who contacted us had called the phone number on their collars. This was our home number. The message on our answering machine gave our cell numbers. He then called one of them, and that call led us to his driveway.
The van hadn't stopped when I opened the door and ran to him. He noticed June Bug in the van window who was barking at him, and he said, "I have two more in my back yard that look just like her."
With leashes in hand, we went through the gate.
I had no idea what to expect.
Lola was there, wiggling all over. Jumping with all four feet coming off the ground at the same time. She didn't look injured.
But where was Ginger ?
About that time, I heard a bark, and she came bounding around the corner, hitting me full force in the face with hers, licking my salty tears as they rolled down.
He told us he heard cars honking so he went to his front door. Lola and Ginger were in the middle of the turn lane, and they had four lanes of traffic stopped in both directions.
He called for them, and they came running.
When I offered him a sizable cash reward, he pushed my hand away and said, "We are dog lovers, too. You would have done the same."