Yes, I do realize it is Wednesday. I have never been this late posting Gratitude Sunday before, but I have a good reason. Here’s what happened:
We decided to spend the weekend at a lovely cabin in the Pikes Peak wilderness area to celebrate my mom’s birthday. Originally, we had planned to go to a hotel in Glenwood Springs, but our dog Rocky’s leg wound hadn’t completely healed, so I didn’t want to board him. At the last minute, I found a cabin that allowed dogs and off we went.
Friday, 8:00 p.m.
The cabin boasted a magnificent view over the Continental Divide and we had a spectacular sunset. After a jovial dinner of homemade lasagna and red wine (for the adults), we trundled off to bed.
Saturday, 2:00 a.m.
Jay wakes up suddenly with the barking seal cough indicative of croup with severe stridor. Phil searches for the closest hospital while I put Jay in a steamy shower, wrap him up in blankets and sit with him outside. Phil then drives one hour to the hospital. Jay spends one hour in the emergency room being treated. They drive one hour back. I do not sleep a wink the whole time. The sun is coming up by the time everyone is back in bed.
Saturday, 8:38 a.m.
I finally drag myself out of bed because Rocky is going ape in the cabin – barking, running around, whining. He needs exercise. I put on my running clothes and begrudgingly take him out in a, “Time to Make the Donuts” kind of way. I have his e-collar on, which has a half-mile radius, so I decide to let him loose when we get to the trail.
Saturday, 9:00 a.m.
I see Rocky go off the trail to sniff something. I pass by, go around a bend and call him. Nothing. I zap him on level 2. Nothing. I zap him on level 3. Nothing. I call and call. Still nothing. I repeat this process slowly back up the trail, even zapping on a full five. Nothing. Not even a single sound. No barking, yelping, sound of an animal running. It’s as if the earth has swallowed him whole.
Saturday, 9:30 a.m.
Luckily, the trail is also a two-track road, so I take Phil’s trusty truck and drive the length of it, certain that once Rocky hears the truck he’ll come running. He does not. Now I am very, very frightened.
Saturday, 10:30 a.m.
Repeat the process, this time dropping Phil off to walk the trail with binoculars. I come back to the cabin and cry so hard I lose my breath. We repeat the drive 2 more times. No Rocky.
Saturday, 12:30 p.m.
Phil and Mom take the kids into town to have lunch and go to a museum so that we don’t all sit and stare at each other in misery. I call every animal shelter and every animal control officer in three counties to report a lost dog. I continue driving and walking the trail. I cry. A lot. I feel immeasurable guilt that I have failed this sweet boy who has become a member of our family. I imagine each and every horrible thing that could have happened or will happen to him. I pray. I even invoke my father for help, which I have only ever done twice before. I guess it was one of those moments when you need your parents – both of them…
Saturday, 6:00 p.m.
The Cripple Creek Sheriff’s Department calls to say someone dropped off a dog at the town shelter that might match Rocky’s description. Phil drives in with Em to find out. We try very hard not to get our hopes up, but it’s impossible. It’s the first shred of hope we’ve had all day. My heart races; my hands shake. I cannot sit still.
Saturday, 7:18 p.m.
Phil calls. The dog at the shelter is not Rocky. My mom and I completely break down. I feel hopeless. The same sunset that we cherished the night before now seems like a final, fatal blow. We grill steaks (it is my mom’s birthday after all) and force them down, but nobody feels like eating, much less celebrating.
Saturday, 10:00 p.m.
We all go to bed, worn out from crying and ready for a few hours of respite, even though we know it will be worse tomorrow when we have to think about leaving without Rocky.
Sunday, 2:00 a.m.
I wake with a start, instantly remember what happened and plunge into misery. I need to pee. I walk down the stairs and notice the outdoor motion-sensor light is on. I see an animal pacing back and forth. I assume it is one of the two huskies from next door who have been hanging around, but when I get closer, I see the curlicue tail. I fly to the door, open it, Rocky jumps into my arms. I am not sure I have ever felt so much relief and gratitude as I did at that moment. He then jumps on my mom’s bed and gives her the best awakening she’s ever gotten. The whole family wakes up to celebrate while he drinks two bowls of water and eats a whole bowl of food.
Sunday, all day
We head home and make a few stops to try to salvage some of the weekend, but really all we can think about all day is how fortunate we are and how miraculous it was that Rocky found his way back, and with barely a scratch on his body. Truly miraculous.
Yeah, so the weekend pretty much sucked. In fact, it was the worst weekend getaway EVER. BUT — it had a very happy ending and left me with something very monumental to write about for this week’s Gratitude Sunday.
So obviously, I’m grateful that Rocky came back. I’m grateful to Phil, who even though he was just as sad and torn up as the rest of us, managed to stay rock solid and keep us all together and sane. Finally, I’m grateful for my mom, who kept telling me it wasn’t my fault even though it absolutely was.
I think that’s more than enough for one week, don’t you?
P.S. Rocky was nothing more than tired with sore paws and a few cuts on his pads. He has been happily convalescing the past few days, as you can see below. If you want to read more about Rocky’s escapades, click here or here.
Categories: Birthdays, Dogs, Family, Gratitude Sunday, Travel · Tags: Animal Control, Animal Shelter, Dogs, Family, Gratitude, Gratitude Sunday, Pikes Peak Wilderness, Rocky, Travel