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  • About 10 minutes before settling in to watch a playoff game – my team was hoping to stave off elimination, like they did the day before – I took my dog, Cajun, out back to take care of business. Cajun is old for a dog her size, 13 ½ years, and she’s had a tough year. Her age is finally beginning to show. Like me, she appears to be losing her hearing, and her sight isn’t far behind. She still gets around pretty good for a large dog her age, but she has slowed down quite a bit this year.

    Our back yard goes down a hill, with a wooded area at the bottom. At night, when she wanders down towards the bottom, you lose sight of her. I keep talking to her, calling her and clapping, so she eventually remembers to wander back up the hill. About once every 4 or 5 months, she’ll wander off down at the bottom, out of sight, and wind up several houses away, sheepishly walking down the street after having made her loop through the back yards, and up to the front. She generally doesn’t bother anything or anyone when she does this, so it’s not too big of a deal when she does.

    She picked last night to wander off. Once I realized she was nowhere in our yard, I tried retracing her steps - I went wandering down into the woods at the bottom, across the bottom of several neighbor’s yards, and saw no sign of Cajun. So, I went up to the street out front, walked down to the cul-de-sac, calling, squeaking her squeaky toy – but no Cajun. It started to rain. I called and called, and there were no signs of my dog, anywhere. I walked up and down the street, all over, several times – nothing. She was gone.

    I came back home, and Kathy called the police non-emergency line to report her missing. I got caught up on the game, and kept looking out the door and calling her, now certain that she probably wouldn’t be back. I went out driving all over the neighborhood and beyond, now in the pouring rain, and didn’t see a thing. I couldn’t imagine her lasting very long out in the elements, lost and all alone.

    I came back home, and just waited. Sometimes, that’s all you can do. I tried to get myself used to the idea that she might not come back. The game was another nailbiter, but I really couldn’t get into it. I tried to rationalize that she’s so old, and probably hurting more than she lets on – maybe she just had to go off to die by herself, like some ancient cultures’ elderly ones used to do. It was all very unsettling. She’d never been gone this long before. She’s just too old. She probably fell down in a hole somewhere, got stuck, and will die in the rain, unable to get up.

    Then, as my team was falling apart on the field, I heard Kathy moving around upstairs and talking with someone on the phone – someone had found her, and brought her into the emergency animal hospital right down the street. She was o.k.! She’d been found wandering around a little park right in town. They’d brought her over to the animal hospital, just a block away from where they found her, and they checked with the police, who had Kathy’s call and description on file. I went down and got her – she was a bit dazed and confused, but otherwise, no worse for the wear. We came home, and watched my team get eliminated – but I really couldn’t have cared less about that. Cajun was alive, and back home. There’s always next season!

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