16 August, 2011

Oh Where, Oh Where Has My Little Dog Gone?

Ever hear the one about the fellow who left his dog behind at a rest area? I hope not, because I, for one, have done that. Maybe a lot of people have, but I kind of doubt it. And many of those might have done it intentionally. (Unfortunately, they won't let you abandon children no matter how whiny and obnoxious they are being on your trip.).

One of the craziest things about my abandoning event, among many, was the fact that I was driving a pickup truck which only had one seat. It didn't have a back seat area of any kind, where possibly it would have been easy for a beagle to hide. No, just one continuous truck-wide front seat, which was filled with people. My ex on the right side, our little girl, Jessica, in the middle, and I was driving.

Suddenly I realized that I did not see our beagle, Spex, so I ask the obvious question, “Where is Spex?”. It probably took about a tenth of a millisecond to search the truck, because there simply was nowhere for the dog to be out of sight. Even the cargo bed was empty, so we could quickly see that Spex was not there—unlike the time we lost our cat, Sneaky, in my sister-in-law's laundry room underneath mega-piles of dirty clothes. Sneaky certainly lived up to her name, as she loved to get “lost”. We couldn't find her in a motel room one time, and only her big, bushy tail gave away her location. I still don't see how she got behind that dresser.

But I digress. So here we are realizing that we left our dog behind. After the usual round of blaming each other for this happening, my ex and I realized we had to come up with a plan. There weren't any convenient places to cross over the four-lane highway to return to the rest area, so we had to drive to the next exit, which was probably only a few miles away, but it seemed to be much farther. To add insult to injury, when I checked the gas gauge I could see that our ' 71 Chevy pickup was getting dangerously low on fuel. So after exiting the four-lane I had to immediately look for a gas station.

By now it has been more than a half hour since we left the rest area, when finally we were gassed-up and ready to head back to look for our pooch. Of course we engaged in more blame game exchanges as we began our return.

The rest area was on the eastbound side and there was no rest area across the road on the westbound side, the direction we were heading. So when we could see that we were approaching where the rest area was I pulled off on the shoulder and my ex got out to cross over and begin looking for our dog.

Now here is where this story gets particularly interesting, pretty much unbelievable, but I swear absolutely true. I noticed that there was a animal lying on the side of the road not far from where I was parked. As I get closer I can see that it is a small dog, and even closer that it is a tri-colored beagle, brown, black, and white, just like Spex. My heart jumps in my throat as I realize that our dog has been hit by a car and now is lying dead, or critically injured along the side of the road. How am I going to explain what happened to Jessica?

I get out of the truck and walk to where the dog is lying. I kneel down beside the poor critter and take a closer look, grasp the collar, and rotate it involuntarily, searching for Spex's ID tag, emotionally drained by what is happening. Tears well up in my eyes. But then it happened.

I suddenly realized this is not Spex! In a calmer, more rational state of mind I would have realized that this dog had been dead for awhile—there were signs of bloating. Sweet relief except for the fact that I still did not know where my little dooger was.

I'm glad to report that this story ended happily. Spex was still at the rest area, where she had been left alone for about an hour. I figure it took her that long to check the entire area for food scraps. We continued on our way to my mother's house in Pennsylvania, an hour behind schedule, but hopefully with enough new wisdom to assure that all passengers will be accounted for every time we get back on the road. I guess it would be hard to explain leaving my ex behind. But then there was that time in California...

~PITTSBURGH starts with PITT!~

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