Loss . . . continued
Early evening, 2/10/19 Within an hour after Edie failed to return as usual, I was on the four-wheeler traveling the creek corridor, and calling from high vantages. Two hours later, no response, I moved to the coyote pen block, after two hours more still no response. The deep, metallic nausea of fear begin to swell that somehow she was unable to respond, had been rendered by some unknown force unable to come back as usual. By midnight, that fear had climbed to the unavoidable realization that she was lost, in whatever form. Finally, not knowing what else to do, sick with not being able to, and hoping desperately she would during the night return, Loretta put her dog bed on the front porch, left the light on, and we unsuccessfully retired at 2 a.m., minds overwrought with the fear that the worst nightmare of our dog lives was suddenly and horrifically a reality.
When we did not find her as we had prayed on her bed in the morning, we knew it was true. From that point on, considering all the catastrophic things that can happen to a lost dog that I had conjured over the years, the terror of the possibilities was almost unbearable.
After eight years, some thing or some body had thwarted her return, breaking a lifetime, ingrained pattern of behavior, of that we were horribly convinced. But what?? We'll never know. The foremost possibilities loomed chillingly:
1. Coyotes had gotten her.
2. Someone had picked her up on the road out front.
3. After eight years, she had finally taken the ultimate fling, on deer or whatever, and gotten herself lost.
Churning despair and anxiety soared to unimaginable degrees.
We quickly ruled #3 to minimum. It was too distantly contrary to her habitual nature. Having her caught and torn apart by coyotes was a distinct possibility. One I thought she could have discouraged to go find an easier meal. Two, or a pack, no. The thought that her remains were in a coyote den at that moment, somewhere a mile away, was almost insufferable. We loved her as unconditionally as she loved us. She did not deserve the cruel fate that could await out there. #2, yes, also a very real secondary possibility.
Because of how swiftly she disappeared, without return or response, almost mystically, we were convinced that whatever happened, happened in the first thirty minutes after she left our sight, and likely the first fifteen. But we heard nothing suggestive. She would have fought a coyote, there would have been a battle, yet we heard nothing. The woods were deathly silent. I listened to the cars going by with great dread, never hearing one slow or stop. But you can never hear eveything. Quickly you are brought forcefully to the wall, that anything becomes a possibility.
But you have to line out on something. And that something is hope, action, and prayer that a better thing will eventually prevail. Though it is a dark, dismal, excruciatingly painful valley you walk with the prospect. Our world was torn apart.
I spent the next day and night riding the 4-wheeler trails through the big wood blocks that adjoined our property, calling and praying. Loretta and I were both an emotional wreck, but we were determined to do all within our power to see her safely home, until we couldn't anymore. By the third morning, she had not returned on her own, and I had not found her, and no one had called (my collar with name and phone number was on her; if someone had her, it was obviously with ill intentions, or they would have benevolently called), the despair and foreboding became cellular. There was no assurance at all that she was still alive. The weight of that was virtually disabliing.
On the clinging premise that she was, our prospects of ever seeing Edie again were reduced to anything and whatever you can do to solicit help from caring friends, neighbors, and kindred souls, who know the incomparable love of and for a dog, thwarting evil intent as best you can, and the graver, uncontrollable vagaries of Fate, fair or cruel.
I immediately developed a flyer to solicit that aid, we printed 500, started getting them out, posting to Facebook, shelters, etc. far and wide, and we decided with no further delay to post a $2000 monetary incentive for her return, no questions asked. I had intended to wait a week, and increase it to $5000. That being probably it. Rewards are controversial, some think they increase the jeopardy to all parties. Not me. There were equal risks either way, maybe, but I leaned toward the action. A day later, I decided a week was too long to wait, $5000 was too small, and to dig deep into savings and go to $10,000. With the intent, if anyone had her, obviously by now with intentions of keeping or selling her, to create the greatest incentive we could to the contrary. Had to do over, I would do the same thing.
Local folks tend to think in local terms, some thinking $10,000 is an exorbitant sum. Hardly. If she were sold into the hands of the canine racketeering mafia, a dog of Edie's charm and character could be sold in the upscale metro areas of the country for $5000 any day of the week. Anyone who thinks $10,000 is a ridiculous sum to offer for the return of a mere dog in any sense, can't know how little I care.
There are worries for personal danger with such a cash sum. I made an even greater habitual habit of being well armed, and if somebody called and said they had our dog, we'd go. If it was her, I'd then call for the money to be delivered. If things went bad in any way, I'd have heavy back-up and there'd be holy hell, because If it was her I wouldn't leave there without her. Getting law enforcement involved brought the unwilling risk of creating a threat element that would never give us the opportunity.
This wasn't TV. At $10,000 it becomes a real consideration to plan for.
Tomorrow: widening the search; good people care