We visited the pound again on Monday, looking for Skip. The pressure was on because Zoe was due back with us that evening. The same dogs were still Buster Brown’s tennis ball was missing, and he looked at us mournfully. He’d been in nearly two weeks. I saw his ball in the sewage gutter some way off. Shannon retrieved it, washed it and popped it back in his cage. “It breaks my heart,” I said. We hugged each other as we leave the facility.
I went out again for another reconnoitring run on Monday afternoon, calling his name and looking on the grass verges, checking further towards Santa Rosa, rather than Forestville. I passed another fresh roadkill deer, and even a little finch. The verges on River Road are near-vertical, because the road is built on a causeway above the Russian River flood plain. I noticed that – despite the slope and the likely 55mph impact to the animals – their bodies were all within a few feet of the road. The road itself has a reputation as a killer, and I passed a shrine to Luis C—-, a teen driver.
I told Shannon later that the distance of the animals’ bodies gave me hope in a way: I would have seen Skip if he’d been killed.
Zoe’s face was red when Shannon brought her back from school that evening, but she was composed as we ate dinner. “She’s taking it really well,” I said.
“God, you weren’t in the car the first twenty minutes after I broke the news to her. She was beside herself.”
After school the following afternoon we put up day-glo posters with photos of Skip on them. “I miss him so much,” said Zoe. “He’s like a little brother to me.” Shannon and I look at each other and cringe.
“Hey, Zoe,” I said. “You know how we’re going to get the FBI in on the search?”
“We’ll tell them that there’s a terrorist called Jack Russell on the loose and his codename’s Skip.” She giggled, and I wondered how much more she’d suffer.
Three days later he’d been missing a week and we were all missing him. We were lying in bed that evening I broached the tricky subject of What To Do If Skip Doesn’t Turn Up. “I don’t know how long we give it,” I said. “But Buster Brown’s sheet said he’s good with kids.”
“Yeah, he’s a cute dog,” said Shannon. “I’d want another Jack Russell, though.” Silence hung for a minute. “You said you’d had dreams about him the last three nights. Don’t you think that’s a good sign?”
“Yeah, they were really lucid dreams. I don’t know what to make of them.”