Lost and found

Maybe “miracle” is too strong a word. Or maybe it’s not. When my grand-dog Iniesta, frightened by fireworks, escaped her fenced backyard on July 6 and fled the scene, we feared it would take a miracle to get her back.

A black dog had disappeared into the black night in the high-traffic heart of Cookeville. Son James and daughter-in-law Natalie were distraught, of course. And guilt-ridden. It wasn’t the first time Iniesta had jumped the not-quite-high-enough brick wall between their carport and the backyard. But she’d never ventured any further than their front porch, where she’d wait patiently to be discovered.

But not this time.

She wasn’t wearing her collar and ID tag. She wasn’t “chipped.” After all, she’d never gone missing before. James and Natalie have full-time jobs and a new baby. A dog who never runs off was the least of their worries. Until she did.

We spent hours looking for her. On foot. On bicycle. In the car. LOST DOG notices were posted on Facebook, Local Sales Network, and in this newspaper, where Adrianna Swallows—who works in classified—promised to pray for Iniesta just as she prays for all lost dogs. (Thanks, Adrianna!) The good folks at Copy Pack & Ship helped Natalie hurriedly make dozens of flyers and laminated posters to distribute all over town.

Days passed. And Iniesta did not come home.

Friends called to say that they’d spotted a collarless black-and-white dog near the high school. Others thought they might have seen her on Gainesboro Grade. Was that Iniesta barking behind a stockade fence in her very own neighborhood? Or had she perhaps been so imprinted by the first two years of her life that she’d
headed east toward my house to look for Sophie, her littermate and best friend?

We followed every lead, to no avail. But we refused to give up hope. We tormented the patient folks at the animal shelter who, though they were certain Iniesta wasn’t there, allowed us—day after day–to check every cage just to be sure. (And by the way, if you’re looking to adopt a black-and-white dog, or any other color, they’ve got some dandy ones at the shelter.)

Inevitably, the what-if’s began. What if Iniesta had been hit by a car and flung into a ditch where no one but the buzzards would ever find her? What if she couldn’t find food and water and was wasting away? What if she had a new owner who thought it okay to chain a dog to a tree? There was no end to the horrible possibilities that sprang from our tortured imaginations. When we tried to talk ourselves into believing that a nice family had found her and taken her into their loving home, we failed.

Then on Friday night, six days after Iniesta went missing, Natalie’s phone rang. A man who lived way out on West Broad Street had been feeding a “friendly and
very hungry” black-and-white dog for a couple of days. His buddy, thinking it might be her picture he’d seen on a poster, wrote down the phone number.

So this lost dog story has a happy ending. Except for one thing. In his excitement
over discovering that the found dog was, indeed, Iniesta, James failed to get her rescuer’s name. Here’s hoping that hero, and everyone else who helped contribute to this miracle, will read this column and know how deeply we
appreciate what they did.

And, yes, Iniesta now wears her collar and ID tag all the time. And we’re making the brick wall a little higher.

(July 21, 2013)

 

 

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