Skip the Jack Russell disappeared on the night of Thursday the nineteenth. He had disappeared before, but usually it had been when Shannon was travelling and the person responsible had not fed and watered him properly. “He’s smart, he’s with neighbours,” said Shannon, to reassure herself as much as anything else. “He’s probably sponging food off them. He’s a very smart dog.”
We called his name along the driveway, and she checked with the neighbours at the bottom of the hill, who’d been known to take him in. We widened our search but there was no sign of him anywhere.
The following day we went to the dog pound in Santa Rosa to see if he’d been brought in. Shannon had retrieved him from there twice before, at great cost. As we waited to be given access to pound, we saw a dog being handed over by its owner. It whined and howled as it was dragged off into the cold concrete cellblock. Presently we were allowed access, the pungent smell of urine and faeces assaulting our noses, the barks and whines echoing around the bare room. Each block had two rows of three-by-four feet cells with bars at the front. Our hearts leapt a little as dogs Skip’s colour came into view in the individual cells. And our hearts broke a little each time we saw perfectly loving and loveable dogs abandoned to the lottery of lethal injection. There were half a dozen dogs we would have loved to have given a home to. “Did you see that lively brown dog?” asked Shannon.
“You mean Buster Brown,” I said. “He picked up a tennis ball and bounced it just like Skip.”
I changed my run that afternoon to accommodate wide sweeps of town. I ran through the neighbourhood calling his name. I ran up and down Trenton Road and River Road, hoping I’d not find his remains. There was a deer and a dog, but no sign of at all of Skip.
“This is my fault,” wailed Shannon. “After the last time I should have had a new collar and a chip inserted.”
“He’ll turn up,” I said. As I stacked firewood that evening I put logs in the pile that I’d thrown for Skip just days before. I wondered whether it was bad karma to be burning them.
“He’s out there,” said Shannon, fighting back tears. “Something tells me his story’s not over yet.”
To be continued…