Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Missing Memphis: Day 2

Sorry for the delay! In case you missed it, here's the first part of "Missing Memphis."

Photos of Clafoutis French Bakery & Restaurant, Santa Fe
Délicieuse!
We were feeling pretty good on the Monday morning we left Las Vegas, New Mexico, for Houston, Texas. We had finished packing almost before the sun went down the night before, whereas we're usually still packing for a trip early the morning we're supposed to leave. Consequently, we almost always leave 30 minutes to an hour late. But that morning we were right on schedule, leaving with the rising sun, sipping hot coffee to warm-up after packing the car in 40-degree temperatures that aren't uncommon here on early summer mornings, and enjoying a breakfast of almond Madeleines we'd bought at a French bakery my wife found with her friend Amanda in Santa Fe that week. Really, we should have suspected things were going too well.

Shortly after trading driving duties with Veronica, she got caught in one of Texas' infamous speed-traps. This had happened to me once before, right after crossing the state line, where the New Mexico highway limit of 75 drops to the Texas 70. But even that went well, with Veronica getting off with a warning. We were still feeling really good about this trip.

Around lunchtime, though, we got a call from Amanda. Right away, I knew something was wrong from the quaver in her voice. And my suspicions were confirmed when she started with, "I have some bad news." She explained that she and Brian had taken Memphis and Fin with them to look in on their friends' house outside of town, for whom they were house as well as dog-sitting. Everything was going well until Brian was locking the gate while holding onto Memphis' leash, when he suddenly bolted after something, jerking free of Brian's hand. She said that Memphis was so fast they didn't even see which direction he ran. They spent a couple hours looking for him and handing out their contact information to neighbors in case anyone saw him. It was at that point that she called us, waiting to see if he'd come back to their friends' house.

I told her not to worry, that he'd just sniffed something irresistible and hadn't gone far.

"He'll probably come back once he realizes no one's chasing him. When he does, just call him sternly and don't chase him. Once he knows it's not a game, he'll probably come back sulking." That's what he does with us, anyway, and I had no reason to think he wouldn't also with them. She said she'd keep us updated, and I filled in Veronica--who was still driving--what had happened.

Trigger 1997-2010
Countless Successful "Escapes",
But Always Came Home Happy and Smelly
It's probably worth mentioning that we weren't all that worried at the time. We'd both grown-up in families with dogs, and dogs run away from time-to-time. My family's last dog--a beagle named Trigger who followed his nose, loved to dig, and lived to the ripe old age of 13--dug his way out of our yard 13 times during the first weekend we'd adopted him from a French family who lived on the other side of town. Every time but one I chased the little puppy down the street, brought him home, and repaired the section of yard he'd destroyed before continuing to line the fence with chicken wire. He was already almost a year old when we'd adopted him, and at first we thought he was trying to get back to his original family. But the one time I didn't notice he was gone right away, we immediately began the search in the family mini-van, driving up and down streets farther and farther from the house, before returning home and getting a call from someone who'd found him around the corner from our house. It turns out that Trigger was so ruled by his nose he wouldn't go very far if he did get out of the yard (which actually happened really often, since my family moved several times while we owned him, and it always took a few months to figure out his escapes) because he'd get so preoccupied with every smell he came across. Whenever we did find him, instead of the neighbors, he'd come running to us with an attitude of, "What took you so long?" before falling asleep, exhausted from his adventure.

Since Memphis (a half-beagle, half-Basset Hound) is also ruled by his nose, I felt pretty certain a similar situation would occur, and he'd either find his back to Brian and Amanda, or they'd find him and he'd come trotting along ready for some water and a nap. As it turns out, I was half-right. Later that afternoon, Amanda called to say that Memphis had walked up to the front door of the house where they could see him, but as soon as she came to the door he ran away again, again disappearing before they could really see where he'd gone.

"He thinks you're playing, the dork," I told her chuckling and trying to reassure her. The quaver in her voice had gotten worse, and I could tell she was really upset about the whole thing. "Leave some food and water out, maybe leave the front door open, and he'll come back again. Just don't chase him." She said they'd do that, and go out looking for him again later. But now I was worried, and so was Veronica. What if he wasn't playing and ran away because he was looking for us? Where would he go surrounded by strange smells, sights, and people. She'd said they were "outside of Santa Fe" but how far? Northern New Mexico has coyotes, wild cats, and even snakes. Immediately, Veronica asked if I wanted to turn around, and immediately I said no. This might be the last time we'd get to see her Mamaw for who knows how long, maybe even ever. Plus, my little brother was expecting us to pick him up and take him away from an empty house in Mississippi for the summer. Besides, Amanda said most of the neighbors already knew he was missing, and clearly, he wasn't going far. He was bound to run up to someone because he likes people so much (especially kids). However worried I was already, it seemed silly to turn back for a dog who was probably just sniffing around someone's back yard.

We tried to be proactive to keep our minds from worrying too much. Veronica kept driving, and I called the shelter we'd adopted Memphis from--All Ear's Basset Sanctuary--who had him micro-chipped as a puppy. We had the contact information for the micro-chipping company at home, and I was hoping they'd pass it on to us. They did one better, though. They contacted the company themselves to let them know Memphis was missing and reassured us they'd send someone to look for him too.

Memphis and his Grandma on Thanksgiving
The rest of the drive to Houston was pretty unnerving, though. And as day turned into evening and Amanda and Brian still had no luck, we became more and more concerned. We pulled into my parents' Houston hotel around 9. We hadn't seen them since Thanksgiving so we visited for a good while before breaking the news about our missing pup. My mother in particular was very fond of her "grand-puppy", but my parents reassured us with stories of all the times Trigger had gotten out. Veronica also whipped up a "Lost" flyer that she e-mailed to All Ear's and posted on Facebook before we went to sleep. We didn't know it at the time, but that flyer became the most important tool in our search.
With the help of a picture, Memphis sightings began to come in.

2 comments:

Beth said...

Ugh! How can you leave us hanging like this? I mean, I know how the story ends, but I want to get to the happy ending ASAP!

Ben Villarreal said...

Haha! I'll get to it soon!

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