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Four more long, painful days pass, then on the eighth morning, hope anew . . .

Three more long and painful days and nights passed . . . since the first, possible sighting, no completing assurance it was her, without the phone call we kept praying would come, just the slender, though never die hope that something, or somebody would see her home . . . each day wrought with danger and depletion for Edie, if she was still alive - always the question - each hour upon the next wringing us more limp with anxiety and despair. The weather remained wet, cold and unforgiving, casting even greater gloom and shroud that she could endure it. We hoped she had found dry shelter, would ride it through. Meanwhile, we were still checking her bed on the front porch every night, hoping by some miracle she would make it back home on her own. Also the several jackets and food sites, which showed no signs of use. It was a dismal time. I was out most of the third night, riding and looking.

Got up tired, the strain beginning to load, physically and emotionally, but readying to go again mid-morning on the eighth day she had been gone. When suddenly the phone rang! It was the call we had been waiting for, because we were largely at wit's end on what more we could do at that point, but wait and pray for a another sighting.

A couple passing by had just glimpsed what they thought was "either our dog, or one that looked just like her" roadside, in another logically possible place, in a cow pasture. They were alert and aware because you had shared the need. They knew because of your tireless efforts to help us! I hit the door running, flew out of the drive in the truck, raced to get there while Loretta relayed directions on my cell. I go there within ten minutes, met the good folks who called, listened quickly to their description, and immediately crossed the fence and ran across the pasture in the direction they said she had gone, as the dog's reaction the moment they had pulled to the shoulder was to turn and run away. When I got to the back of the pasture, I did not see her; she had obviously fled back into the woods. I started in, calling softly, praying she would come. (I'm over -using "praying" here descriptively, only because that's the way it was.) I got about a hundred-fifty yards into the woods, when my cell rang again: Loretta, desperate and in panic: another couple who lived a quarter-mile south had just seen her and called (their description being virtually unmistakable, down to my blue collar she still wore), on the same side of the road, above the cow pasture in their drive.

I pulled a hamstring muscle running back to the truck, but was there in five minutes. This time, thank God, we were virtually sure. It was Edie! Oh, God, the relief that at least she was still alive. But her reaction had been the same, to turn and fly. I spent the rest of the day and night searching and calling in the big woods block behind their home, and in the big fields and woods behind the cow pasture, but, heartbreakingly, never saw her myself, nor got a response.

Edie was normally a friendly, responsive, keen and eager little dog, not shy but welcoming, but I knew at that point the warnings had been true; she was becoming completely untrusting and wild, in order to survive. I just didn't know, but would soon discover, just how unbelievably so. God only knows, what she had been through to that point. How she had survived the coyotes that long I'll never know.

But she HAD, and all else! Hope surged anew.

Though it would be dealt a frightening and painful blow the very next morning, and bring one of the most horrific moments of my dog life. One I would not then have thought possible with a dog that had been with us for eight years, 24/7, loving and caring, since the proverbial 7-week-old puppyhood threshold of optimum bonding. We had a trust-bond, I thought, that would win through. Regardless. Again, I would be impossibly wrong.

Tomorrow: Regardless of what you have good reason to believe otherwise, and with extreme cruelty, devotion finds its limits in circumstantial straits . . .

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