So I actually did have my first food/recipe post in awhile ready to write up and run with this week, but there’s been another topic plaguing my mind at the moment and the ramp-asparagus-mushroom Spring pizza is just going to have to wait.
The topic is missing pets. Or more generally, the emotional state of helpless fear.
See, last Sunday – Easter Sunday – I spent the day with my wife and in-laws at their new home. They moved in about a month ago, so it’s still sort of a transitional phase for their pets. Their old place had a pretty small yard – fenced in in the back, and not much space in the front to speak of. The new house is in a much farther spread out neighborhood, and the lot backs to a state forest that goes back for miles and miles.
Sunday afternoon, beautiful day, and we’re all hanging out on their patio outside with their three dogs – a big, but young golden lab, a 3 or 4 year old Yorkshire Terrier (tiny little thing), and a much older cross-breed (part Doberman I think, but it doesn’t much show). Only the lab is leashed, as she could easily run off on her own faster than anyone could catch her.
The terrier – Lexi – wanders off. She has a bit of a habit of this, I understand, but usually doesn’t get too far as her legs are about 3 inches from the ground and she tires easily. But we don’t notice for probably 15-30 minutes or so.
So the hunt was on. It proceeded with increasing frantic-ness as she wasn’t found in the first half hour or so of looking. We had probably 6 or 7 people combing the woods, the neighborhood, everywhere. She couldn’t be found. We searched for about two hours, and then a thunderstorm rolled in. We kept looking. Some split off to go knock on doors in case someone had found her and taken her inside, or to the animal shelter. All told, we spent about 4-5 hours looking for this dog.
And in the end, someone drove past the house and asked if we were looking for a dog. They had her, back at their house. Some group of people driving by had seen her in the road, picked her up, and taken her back to their house – which was far enough away to be out of the radius of our search. She had been dry and secure the entire night, and was returned safely home about 10:30pm or so.
All was well, but it didn’t stop all of us from having a long drawn out panic attack, with – of course – her parents unable to think of anything but the worst the whole time.
The very next day – Monday – our cat goes missing. Stomper is an outdoor cat, so it’s not uncommon for him to spend long stretches of time roaming the neighborhood unaccompanied. Sometimes he’ll go a full 24 hours, if he finds somebody else to feed him.. which happens often enough.
He’s also very friendly, and close to fearless. If you open your door to him, he will gladly stroll right in your house and hang out for awhile. He is independent enough, and loves being outdoors, but he also adores human affection.
On Monday after work, we went for a walk with him. Yes, he walks with us around the neighborhood, staying by our side the majority of the time while occasionally running off to chase a bird.. or sometimes, a stick or leaf. So we take walks every once in awhile, more so since the weather has warmed up. Towards the end of our walk, he decides he’s not ready to go home yet and veers off into a small courtyard about a block away from our house. He knows this territory well and has done this before, so of course we think little of it and return to the house.
But then he doesn’t come back that evening. Nor the following morning. Nor the following evening. Nor the following-following morning. We haven’t yet seen him since.
We have searched and I’ve driven the entire area with no luck. He is micro chipped and has a blue collar with a bell, but his phone number collar recently fell off. I’m hoping someone has taken him in thinking they are doing a favor (they are most certainly not). I will be going door to door tonight along with a more aggressive search.
Not that there is ever an appropriate time for such a scare, but having to deal with this additional stress when my wife my be going into labor any day now – not my idea of a good time.
And that brings me to the title of my post. And the topic of helpless fear and what it’s like having to deal with that emotion. To know that something / someone you love is out there, possibly hurt, missing you, and not knowing how to get to you or being unable to get home is such a painful thought. And the mind immediately goes to the worst possible consequences, no matter how hard you might try not to.
I know what this feels like with a pet. This has happened before (I’m not sure it’s been quite this long before, but we’ve had scares before), and I’m familiar with that feeling. But frankly, while I can’t stop thinking about it while Stomper is gone, I also can’t stop thinking about how difficult this emotion is going to be when I am fearing for my daughter. I’m fully aware that it’s entirely inevitable that there will be times in which the same thing is experienced – that combination of fear of the unknown, helplessness to do anything about it, and obsession that the worst possible scenario is occurring – but with the object of that experience being Aedan. And honestly I’m scared to death of having to deal with that.
Please come home soon, Stomper. We miss you.
UPDATE: Stomper is back home now. He was away for four days. Apparently he never left the neighborhood because all the kids around had seen him at their bus stop every day. He has a lot of friends who feed him, too. He just was being too cool for us.
In actuality we suspect his recent waywardness may be due to the fact that Amanda is just about ready to go any day now. He’s back home and seems okay but we’re a bit reluctant to let him back out any time soon. Of course we’ll have to eventually, though.