Have you ever lost your dog? Have you ever watched your dog run down the garden, hop the fence and bound around the woods… Whilst you’re chasing it?
I have. It definitely made the list of top 5 worst experiences of my life, currently still no.1 – although the entire ordeal only lasted about 10 minutes, those 10 minutes completely drained me.
We officially got Smartie on the 3rd April 2013 and at this point we’d had him for a couple of months. I remember being fairly chilled at home so it must have been an early finish from Sixth Form day, watching the Simpsons, drinking tea and enjoying the company of my wonderful Staffie. He wandered over to the conservatory doors and jumped up at them aka, “I need to go like, now”. Like I said, we’d had him a couple of months so he had already received quite a lot of training for re-call and general good behaviour. So, because of this we started feeling comfortable enough letting him out in the garden without a lead. So, no lead was applied to his collar that afternoon – I opened the door and let him out, following him closely. He lingered around the top part of the garden for a minute or so then he bounded towards the corner of the garden where the fence is lower.
If you have ever had an ‘oh crap’ moment then you probably know how I was feeling there and then. He hopped the fence with ease and went off into the woods, I stood astounded for a few seconds but, I couldn’t afford to stand there any longer – I had a dog to catch!
I hurtled down the garden, threw myself over the fence (with a surprising amount of class given the situation) and ran towards where I saw him last. No lead, no treats, no whistle, just a sickeningly frightened 17 yr old trying to get her dog back. At that moment, I had no time to feel ill or scared or anything I just needed to grab him – fast.
He weaved around the trees darting from one side to the other, I felt like I was in a game that was set to the highest difficulty. I kept thinking about how much everyone would hate me because I lost the dog, my head was spinning, I was completely covered in cuts and I was 0% closer to catching Smartie. He disappeared briefly and came bounding back in my direction. “This is it” I thought, “he can’t possibly go through me now can he?” … I was very, very wrong. I was on the floor, gasping for air and trying to get Smartie in my sights again. I absolutely could not lose him. I tried to find my feet and stumbled over again, in absolutely excruciating pain I saw him zoom passed again. I felt bad, he was having the time of his life whilst I was trying not to throw up – that was the worst part of it all, he thought it was a game, a bloomin’ good one! and I felt like my entire heart had been ripped from my chest and it was no ones fault but mine.
I eventually found my feet after urging myself to get him, I was running out of chances. Exhausted and covered in blood I wiped the sweat from my eyes and headed over the fence at the other side of the woods. Smartie in my sights, this absolutely had to be it. I had one single burst of energy left and it had to be for Smartie. I had to get him back. I darted through the trees, gaining more cuts as I went, Smartie slowed and wriggled his way through farmers field fence. I leaped and threw my arm through the gap in the fence tearing the skin. I had him by the collar. I put my head to the fence for some minutes to gain my breath back and some understanding of what just happened. “Thank god” I thought to myself. I realised how much worse the situation could have been if there was anything in that field, if he interfered with anything belonging to a farmer it probably would’ve resulted in him being shot dead.
I pulled him towards me and helped him through the fence separating us. He struggled tremendously getting his huge head and shoulders through the gap. I don’t know how he got through in the first place. I hugged him as if he’d been gone for years and only just returned. All the energy I had left was going into this hug, he obviously had no idea what was going on but, he didn’t resist like he normally would. Tears rolled off my face, picked him up and carried him. A woman walking her dog stopped and gave me the most peculiar look. I didn’t understand at first and then remembered all the blood probably made me look like I’d just been involved in some sort of horrific fight. I suppose I had. I nodded at her and carried on walking, carrying Smartie hoping she would understand. I got around the corner walking down the path to my house – I saw my mam pull up outside the house and get out the car. She glanced in my direction and looked away, then looked again and had the most devastated look on her face. I wanted to apologise for losing the dog in the first place but, I suppose she was just glad we were both home safe and sound. Walked through the drive and into the house, I put him down very gently (I don’t know why, he wasn’t the one in agonising pain). I collapsed in the arm chair, breathing heavily. Everything was hurting me like I’d been severely beaten up. My head fell into my hands and Smartie shoved his snout between my hands and licked my face. “You little git” I thought, “but I love you” I said.
I think that was the day I realised I had a total undying love for this dog, I would do anything for him. In one afternoon he had became my entire life and to this day our bond is the strongest it could possibly be. I did hate myself for not putting his lead on but, perhaps it all worked out for the best.
Now, after he has completed his training and has ‘graduated’ he is free to roam the garden as he pleases. I still watch him closely, I imagine him jumping over the fence and it happening all over again but, not being so lucky this time. I know he’s a good boy, well behaved and loyal to his family. I don’t believe he’d ever jump the fence now unless it was for something really important.