This is a true story about my dog Smokey from several years ago. Smokey has since passed on, but I still think of him from time to time. I was recently reminded of this lost and found story when empathizing with someone whose dog has been missing for over a month.
Smokey was everything a good dog should be. Smart, loyal, lovable, and well-mannered. He was my boy. He didn’t just love me, he took care of me. I can recall a number of incidences when he had my back, but before I relate the lost and found story, let me tell you about one of these incidents during our trip to the Grand Canyon.
I was separated from my husband at the time and was anxious to go out and see the world. I was really into hiking, rock climbing, and other outdoor activities at the time so the Grand Canyon seemed like a great place to go on vacation. As a single female, I should have been a little afraid to go on vacation by myself. But I really wasn’t going to go by myself. I was taking my boy Smokey with me.
Our first stop was in Tucson where we slept in my car at a campsite. We stayed only long enough to sleep and for me to take a quick photo of Smokey in front of a tall cactus. Then we were on our way to Sedona. I think we were there for a day or two hiking the wild green trails surrounding various big red rock formations. It was on that trip that Smokey and I saw our first Tarantula. Cool!
Next, we went to the Grand Canyon. It was here that Smokey first exhibited his role as my guardian. I was young and pretty back then so it is no surprise that I had men hit on me from time to time. For the most part, Smokey could care less. He got along with people well. But he had a sixth sense, as some dogs tend to do. There was this one particular man that Smokey did not like one bit. And he let the man know exactly how he felt, too. Smokey did not lunge at him or even bark, but when the man went to pet him Smokey showed his pearly whites and let out a menacing rumble. Now I don’t really know if this man was up to no good or not. But I trusted Smokey more than I trusted myself.
This is just a hint at how close Smokey and I were. So you can imagine how devastated I felt on the day he disappeared. Someone left the gate open and being an intact male, Smokey went out exploring.
I looked everywhere for him to no avail. I must have filled the tank in my car a dozen times while out looking for him. I even checked the animal shelter, but there was no sign of him anywhere. The internet was not as prevalent as it is now, so I did what most people who lost their pet did back then. I put up hundreds of fliers and posted ads in the newspaper. I also talked to people who were out and about and visited the shelter on a regular basis.
No one had claimed to see Smokey. Not a single person responded to my ad or my fliers. I did have a scam call where a truck driver told me he had my dog and he wanted money, but I didn’t fall for it. This man didn’t have my dog.
For two long weeks I feared for the worst. I was sure Smokey had been hit by a car or something. Smokey was smart but he was not streetwise.
By the beginning of week three, I was ready to give up. I almost didn’t place an ad in the paper. But thankfully, I did.
A couple of days after I placed that ad, I finally got the call I had been hoping for. It was a vet office. They said they had picked up a dog fitting Smokey’s description a couple of weeks ago. It was quite a distance from our house, but it really sounded like it could be my Smokey. He had the same collar. He had tags too, although the woman said the tag information didn’t lead her anywhere. (I checked the tags myself later and the tags did, indeed, come back to my current information. But that is another story.)
I still wasn’t sure if it was my Smokey that they had or not, but my heart raced as I got in my car and tried not to speed over to the vet office. When I got to the office, I tried to be patient as the receptionist called someone to the front. As a woman led me to the back kennel area, I asked her a dozen questions. My heart was still racing and she was walking so darned slow!
Smokey must have heard my voice because before we got to the door of the kennel area, I heard a wailing cry. I’ve never heard this sound from Smokey, but somehow I recognized his voice too. The woman couldn’t open the kennel area door fast enough!
She didn’t have to show me which cage Smokey was in. I just followed his cry. And sure enough, there was my boy!
I cried so hard at seeing him again. He cried too. It didn’t take long before the entire vet staff had tears in their eyes too.
When the woman opened the cage, I was mauled by the happiest dog ever. I’m sure he scratched me with his nails, but I didn’t care. I was so happy to see him again. I got my boy back! It was the best day ever!!!
You can’t end a story on a happier note than this, so The End.