A few members of my family might recall the last time we saw our dog, Loafer, was about 15 years ago when I let him during a pizza delivery. It was so cold that as he was peeing on the front porch, I think it froze mid-stream. I took the pizza to the kitchen then returned to let the dog back in. Only he wasn't there. He was gone and it was for good, despite canvassing the neighborhood and yelling my head off. I've always been accused of not looking after Loafer on that day, but he was so old and I swear (with blogosphere as my witness) that it was mere minutes that he was on the icy bricks out front.
Fast forward. Yesterday was hectic and involved me watching a friend's girls all afternoon while prepping for a fundraiser last night at a local store. So I pre-ordered the pizza for the sitter and Wyatt, asking that it show up at 5:20 since Chelsea was coming at 5:30. Of course yesterday was a day that Wyatt woke up early from nap, completely out of sorts, then slept on me for another hour (not complaining - it's so blissful to be camped out in my favorite chair, DVR list ready to watch with a sleeping kid and a kicking baby. I thought that I might like to bottle that moment for future use), so I was running behind. And then of course the pizza showed up 20 minutes early and at the exact same time as our neighbor's kid delivering the fundraiser box of Krispy Kremes I ordered. Cacophony erupted because Wyatt thought I was leaving him, then he saw the donuts and was yelling, "I want donut! Donuts donuts yay donuts!" and the pizza man needed me to sign the slip and it was freezing and windy (it snowed for about five minutes yesterday) and the door was open and Millie was barking and jumping and just CHAOS for about 2 minutes.
Then I got Wyatt herded in, donuts and pizza to the kitchen, sorted through Wyatt's sobs to figure out he was unhappy with my imminent departure and my plan for him to eat pizza before donuts, got him set up at his red table in the family room and we sat down to eat. At 5:20, Chelsea showed up and rang the doorbell. Immediately, I noticed Millie didn't bark. Red flag. So I let Chelsea in and told her I just realized I don't know where the dog is. Wyatt's sobbing again, but I throw on my coat, scarf and shoes to step out and yell for her. A minute later, she's still not there and panic is setting in. And also? I'm not changed for the fundraiser I'm hosting, I haven't loaded all the appetizers/drinks/cups/etc. in the car and I need to leave in ten minutes.
So I come back in, tell Chelsea to help herself to pizza while I go out looking for Millie. I promise you, this is a dog that never leaves our yard. Ever. All the neighbors comment on how good she is at just hanging out. And of course we don't keep her collar on her because she's so good and it's so jingly. And it's the coldest night of the year. So I start yelling, walking through all the backyards down to the golf course, back through the cul-de-sac, eyeing the neighbors' back porches for signs of Millie begging at someone else's door. No luck. So I get the phone to call Jeff at work because really, how am I supposed to find the dog and go host this thing in five minutes? And of course he doesn't answer his office phone because he's in the back and I can't find the freaking recall roster for the ops desk number because he's "put it away" so I'm cursing myself for losing the dog and cursing him for being organized and cursing myself some more for not being more ready for this thing and cursing, just, in general.
I get in the car, window down, screaming for Millie while cruising the neighborhood not wanting to go look on the four lane road that's only a block away because I know I cannot handle and unwell Millie any more than I can handle a missing Millie. I also find the ops desk number and when the nice airman tells me that Jeff's in the back (which I told her already) and do I have that number? I try to calmly, assertively and without crying tell her that no, I do not have that number and that she needs to find him because it's his wife and it's kind of an emergency. Jeff finally picks up and I tell him that Millie's missing. Just gone. And then I was crying because seriously? Twice in one life I can lose a dog because of a pizza guy? And this is our Millie girl and it's so cold and it's so dark and she's so very gone and I just don't know what to do.
Jeff says he's on his way. So I turn the corner and notice a minivan cruising with its hazards on. I am still crying, yelling, panicking and the guy pulls up across from me, rolls down his window with a smile on his face and I ask if he's seen a little black and white dog. He punches a button, the side door slides open and there's three cute little blond kids loving on my Millie. And then I completely lost it. They found her, one cul-de-sac the opposite way and figured someone was out looking for her. So as I'm stumbling over my thank you's and oh my gosh's and thank you so much's and my name's Stephanie and I'm so sorry and thank you SO MUCH while crying and putting Millie in my car, I hear one of the kids say, "so I guess that's her dog?"
I quickly called Jeff back and told her she was found and that he didn't need to come home. He said he would anyway but I assured him everything and everyone was safe and sound. So he called me again, twenty minutes later, as I was on my way to the fundraiser and asked if I was okay. Turns out I was still shaken because, as much as my family didn't think the Loafer incident scarred me, I can assure you it did. Especially when I thought it was all happening again. So next week when we're all being aware of all we should be thankful for, my family - with four-legged members included - will be top of my list.