Wet Dog

December 3, 2012

Somewhere just after midnight the first thunder shook the house. It woke a man, a woman, a four year old child, and a medium sized dog. The baby slept.

The whip crack of lightning lit up the room for a split second. The dog paced nervously. She was a sweet soul. A happy whippet. She was made of gentleness, with a teensy weensy bit of silliness thrown in for good measure. But as dogs go, she was a worrier.

The storm brewed on. The rain was pouring. The dog began to jump and pace. And scratch and whimper. The baby slept.

The man was tired. The woman was annoyed. The man got up. The woman reached over to the four year old. And the dog was placed outside.

It was like a replay of two nights before. Though the storm was milder then. The dog seemed to want to be outside then. But this storm was different. It packed a punch. And the woman only realised this as soon as the dog was out. The sting of regret was sharp.

Within minutes they could hear the dog jumping outside the bedroom window. A hard scratching was heard with every leap.

The man got up. The woman followed a few minutes later. Just bring her inside, she thought.

She found the man out in the garden in the rain with his torch. She’s not here, he said. And it was then that she knew the dog had not been jumping at the bedroom window at all. She had leapt the adjoining fence, and ran out to the street.

They rushed to the front yard. The street seemed emptier in the dead of night. It felt even emptier without the sight of a bewildered dog. Their torches were drowned by the rain. Their calls fell short against the bellows of thunder. Rosie! Rosie!  But it was too late. The spooked whippet had run.

The man got in the car. The woman came inside, changed into dry clothes, and curled up with the four year old. She lay there in silent panic. She knew the dog had no road smarts. The dog didn’t even have the smarts to steer herself home. She knew she worried too much about the dog, about her children, about everything. If you receive bad news once, it’s so easy to believe bad news can happen again. So she closed her eyes and called upon angels. Surely there were angels. Even for lost whippets in a storm.

The four year old patted her. Don’t worry, Mum. Rosie will come home in the morning after the storm. The child’s sweet innocence was almost enough to cheer her up.

They were at the front window when the headlights beamed through the rain and into the driveway. Even before the man got out, they could see no dog in the front seat. The woman grabbed her keys. She’d drive the streets. She’d search the whole town. She’d drive all night if she had to. She didn’t think her heart could bear another loss this year. Not before Christmas. Why do these things happen just before Christmas?

She was about to jump in the car when she remembered the laneway. The one that led to the parklands and the creek behind the house. The one they strolled down every time they took the dog for a walk. No sooner had she mentioned it when the man grabbed his torch and walked out into the rain. She’d forgotten how much he loved that frazzled dog too.

Somewhere in the rainy shadows of the creek at half past two in the morning a scared drenched dog walked up quietly to the familiar figure of a man. The same man that fed her every morning. The same man that she followed like glue around the house. The same man that held her as a pup.

When he opened the bedroom door with the dog at his side the woman buckled to the floor. She grabbed the wet dog and sobbed. Oh Rosie, you’re home. Oh Rosie, you’re home.

She held the dog so tightly she didn’t think it was possible for the dog to ever escape from her grip again. Eventually, as she caught her breath, she let the dog slip out of her lap and sink into the carpet.

Outstretched, exhausted and limp, the dog did not move. She just stared blankly with a mixture of shock and sadness. The lure of her cosy bed only inches away was not enough to unpin her from the floor. The woman covered the wet dog with a towel and placed a blanket under her head.

Somewhere in the early hours of the morning the big storm eased. A man, a woman, a four year old, a baby, and a medium sized dog slept deeply. Safe. Where they belonged.

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{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Chrissie @ Yoga in Recovery December 3, 2012 at 10:46 pm

“Some people talk to animals. Not many listen though. That’s the problem.” ~ Pooh
“Mum. I need to stay indoors when there is a storm.” ~ Rosie

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Deb December 3, 2012 at 11:00 pm

Hi Chrissie. I wondered if I needed to explain why that happened, as it’s something both my husband and I feel so bad about. We tried to comfort her many times before deciding to do it. We only decided to do put her out in the end because two nights prior she seemed to prefer to stay out in the storm. And we thought our fences were fortified enough. We read her emotions wrong that night and we are gutted about it. :(

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Deb December 3, 2012 at 11:01 pm

By the way, I love that Pooh quote. :)

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Chrissie @ Yoga in Recovery December 4, 2012 at 10:01 pm

Oh Deb, please don’t think I am criticising … empathising, rather. I am at my wit’s end lately, as I try to deal with Ditto’s hysterical separation anxiety at being left outside while I teach classes. I feel SO BAD when he is upset. In the storm last week, I just had to bring him in to join in class! Rosie is so lucky to have people who care … x

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Deb December 4, 2012 at 10:11 pm

Yes, I didn’t think you were criticising – I know you’re a beautiful empathic soul. Just thought I’d clear it up anyway, just in case I didn’t make it clear in the story. It sounds like Ditto (great name!) is lucky to have people who care too. xx

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Lee December 4, 2012 at 10:32 am

Oh Deb! What a traumatic night! Such a relief that she was found. I hope you have all recovered. xx
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Deb December 4, 2012 at 3:02 pm

It was traumatic, Lee. I’m such an animal person, as well as being an emotional person. After losing Luka my cat earlier this year it was almost like I relived that grief all over again. And Lee, thank you for taking some of your precious internet time to read this today – I know how limited you are at the moment! xx

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Gill December 4, 2012 at 11:30 am

There is nothing like the calm sleep after a storm. Clears the cobwebs and all. And emotions run wild in the middle of the night at the best of times so I can totally relate to your decision. Sometimes we read things wrong. Beautifully written as always, Deb. You told Rosie’s story with elegance and great respect.

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Deb December 4, 2012 at 3:00 pm

Thank you so much Gill. That was exactly what I was hoping to do – give Rosie respect. So glad that communicated through.

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Melanie December 4, 2012 at 6:12 pm

Beautifully written Deb- brought tears to my eyes. I’m so glad she got home safely xx

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Deb December 4, 2012 at 8:52 pm

Me too, Mel. I know you’d understand the emotion of this. Bless our gorgeous pets. x

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