Sunday, October 17, 2010

Nik - the Flying Wonder Dog

Sorry I didn't put anything up yesterday.  After reading this, you'll understand why.

Yesterday afternoon while Barrie and I were in the garage moving and packing things for our upcoming move to Florida, our two dogs, Nik and Lucky, were in the apartment entertaining themselves.  Nik was mostly lying behind the blinds by the sliding glass door in the living room, where he could see us as we carried things into the garage. 
Around 1:30pm, I went up to the kitchen to get some water and noticed a hole in the lower left corner of the window screen in the kitchen.  Parts of the screen had been chewed away and there were pieces of it in Nik’s food bowl.   Lucky was standing there watching me and Nik was nowhere to be found so I figured he was the one who had chewed through the screen and he was in his favorite hiding place, upstairs under our bed.  Not 30 minutes earlier Barrie had commented that maybe we shouldn’t leave the windows up because one of them might chew through the screen and escape. 
Without checking to be sure Nik was upstairs, I went back down and told Barrie she had jinxed herself and that one of the dogs had chewed through the screen.  (Please understand, I didn’t worry about Nik because this window was on the second floor, at least 14 feet above the ground.  In addition, he is 15 years old and he had never, ever done anything to remotely indicate he would jump from a second story window.)  We continued working for another hour or so, then went inside to clean up before returning the trailer we had borrowed.
We were going to get something to eat while we were out so we decided to let the dogs out before we left.  Lucky was by my heels so I called for Nik to come downstairs so I could take them out together.  That’s when I realized something was wrong.   Nik always comes when called, especially if you say he’s going outside.  I called out three or four times, even using the magic phrase “Let’s go outside.”  There was no response.
Finally I went upstairs to the bedroom and looked under the bed.  No Nik anywhere.  My first thought was that somehow he had gotten into the garage unnoticed and that we had closed him up out there.  I informed Barrie that I couldn’t find Nik and went to the garage.  He wasn’t there either.  I was beginning to get worried at that point because as much as my head didn’t want to grasp the possibility, I was wondering if he’d gone through the hole in the screen.  I knew he wasn’t lying on the ground under the window because I had just come in that way a short time earlier.  Yet, he wasn’t in the house.  We looked everywhere, from the bedrooms to the garage, to the living room, dining room, even in the bathrooms and closets behind closed doors.  Nick was not in the house.
I checked the garage one more time since it was fully loaded with boxes and furniture, but to no avail.  Nik was gone.
Barrie was still fairly calm at this point but we headed outside to look around.  Both of us had the same thought – if he hurt himself when he jumped/fell, he may be laid up under the bushes across the street.   We both looked there and Barrie started walking the path around the lake while I went through the neighborhood.  After about an hour spent looking for and calling him, and talking to anyone who happened to walk or drive by, we had to return the trailer to its owner.  We abandoned the search for a little while and drove the 20 miles to return it, hoping Nik would be on the porch when we returned.  Of course, he wasn’t there so we continued our search all around the neighborhood, using both vehicles and calling his name over and over.  One of the neighbors said he had seen Nik over by the pond earlier so we had an idea he wasn’t hurt, or at least, not hurt badly. 
As it began to get dark and we ran out of places to look, Barrie came home and the sadness was building.  She went inside and started a bath.  When I went upstairs to see her, she was crying her eyes out.  I felt awful and had no idea what to do.  Barrie has a habit of acting like she doesn’t care for that dog one bit but her tears screamed otherwise.  She’d had him for 15 years and her little buddy was missing and “he’s probably cold by now.”  It broke my heart.
She asked if I would go out and check a nearby neighborhood one more time and, of course, I said yes.  I drove around the entire area one more time but it was already dark and I couldn’t see anything.  I had to return empty handed and found Barrie in bed, with the TV on, staring into space.  Her heart was aching and I couldn’t fix it.
I left the front porch light on and told Barrie I would get up every time I awoke during the night and check to see if Nik had returned.  She eventually dropped off into a restless sleep and, true to my word, I got up at least 5 times during the night to look out and check on Nik.  But he just wasn’t there.
I awoke for the last time around 6, stayed in bed until about 7:30, then got up to take Lucky out and check the neighborhood one more time.  When I returned, Barrie was up and getting dressed.  She came downstairs and said “I’ll see you later.”  I knew she was going back out to search.  I asked if she wanted me to go with her (I was making flyers and posting lost and found ads online) and she said no.  I kinda knew she wanted to be alone for a while.  Once I got the flyers printed and notices posted, I got in my truck and headed out as well.
After about an hour of searching we saw an animal control truck parked near our neighborhood, running, with no one in it.  Someone on the street told us the officer was down the street a ways so I started walking  to find him.  Barrie circled around the other way and we found him a block or two away.  Barrie got to him first and asked if anyone had found a Jack Russell yesterday.  He gave her the number to call the pound and, miraculously, they had him!  The lady wasn’t sure but she knew that yesterday they had received a small Jack Russell with a red collar and a rabies tag from Banfield Veterinary Service.  It had to be Nik – the coincidence was too great.  We got all his paperwork and headed to the pound.
Barrie was still nervous and worried that it might not be him but when we showed Nik’s picture to the people at the pound they said it was definitely him!  Our lost child had been found!  It cost us $74 to spring him from doggie jail….
We got Nik in the truck and headed home.  Barrie let me drive so she could hold her little man on the way home.  After his big night – the escape, running around free, capture, prison food, prison shots and medication and a night spent sleeping in jail, Nik was tired and wouldn’t even eat the French fry Barrie tried to give him as a treat.  He stayed in her arms the entire way.  I asked Barrie to do me one favor – to “Please don’t ever again pretend you don’t care about this dog.”  She smiled and agreed. 
On the way home I had a thought that I shared with Barrie, mostly as a joke.  “It’s too bad Nik can’t talk.  He’d be able to tell us if he jumped from the window or if Lucky pushed him.”  Barrie’s response was “I’ve already thought of that.  The “good dog” pushes the other dog out the window so the good dog can have all the attention.  Hmmm….” 
When we got home and opened the door, Lucky came out and walked up to Nik and sniffed him all the way around.  Barrie and I had our own, different thoughts about this meeting and what the dogs may be communicating to each other.  My thought was Lucky saying “So, they caught ya huh, Nik?  Good try though.”
Barrie’s thought was Nik saying “Get away from me you mangey bitch!  You pushed me!!”  They didn’t really act like enemies though and I’m thinking neither of those thoughts was too accurate.  We took them on a walk then came back to the house.  Nik still wouldn’t eat anything but he did go up to the bedroom and crawl into his man-cave under the bed.  He’s still there now.
So the bottom line is this – for whatever reason, Nik chewed through the screen in the kitchen window, on the second floor, and jumped out.  Why he did it we’ll never know.  There are several small bushes under the window, any one of which could have broken his fall.  The dog is 15 years old so either he slipped out, was after something on the ground, or he thought he could fly.  He didn’t sustain any injuries that we can detect so apparently he’s good at it.  I don’t know who is more tired – Nik, from his overnight jail experience or Barrie, from worrying and crying herself to the small amount of sleep she actually got.  Anyway, it’s good to have him home.  It will be a long time before he gets to do anything by himself again….

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