As I head out the door for a quick dinner with my husband; I did the three dog head count. I yelled up to my son to watch the dogs. In all honesty there isn't much to watch; they typically watch me exit and find a spot to sleep until I get back. On return I got a very exuberant greeting from the poodles at the front door. I assumed Jessie was deep asleep; most likely up in my room. Many days she doesn't realize I've been out; she is asleep when I leave and still sleeping when I get home. So I quickly meld into the day to day and she is none the wiser.
After my greeting I headed to the kitchen; preparing the dogs food usually brings her out of even the deepest sleep. No Jessie? I stopped cutting and went to find her; as I checked on all of her favorite spots I started to worry. If she wasn't on any of these comfy spots and she wasn't in the kitchen; where was she? I could feel my adrenaline running as I check all of her choice spots; each glaringly empty. I yelled to my son and husband "I can't find Jessie." We scoured the house; the yard, every nook and cranny we could think of, no Jessie. Then my son yelled "the screen is ajar." We have two patio doors in the front of the house; one in a room which is empty at the moment and the screen was pushed out. Scratching my head; we checked the tiny pseudo-deck, nothing. We then ran frantically down the stairs and out in front of the house. If she had not gone back into the house the only other way down was off the deck; a good ten foot drop.
We were all frantic; how does a dog simply disappear? If she had gone off the balcony; surely she would be injured. Yes she is a Jack Russell but a fourteen year old Jack Russell. The idea that she came off the deck just didn't seem right. I ran back into the house and screamed for her as loud as I could; she is now nearly deaf, almost blind and her sense of smell isn't great. The thought of her wandering around the neighborhood was terrifying. She had to be in the house somewhere. My husband was still searching the surrounding yard; I was scouring the house and my son ran down the streets. This is every canine guardians worst nightmare. Normally she would have just stood at the front door and waited for us to come out and get her; all my dogs are like velcro to the house. So where was she?
Moments later; which of course seemed like hours I heard my sons voice out the front "I've got her." Music to my ears; I sped down the stairs and out the front to see Jessie in my sons arms. She wagged her little tail like crazy as I spoke to her. My son filled me in; she was around the corner on someones yard. A woman was trying to catch her and was then going to put out signs. We all breathed a huge sigh of relief and went inside. Jessie seemed to be fine; no signs of injury from her little adventure. She tore around the house and grabbed the first toy she could find; shaking the living daylights out of it. She ran to me again; whining her happy whine and shook her toy some more.
This story has a happy ending; it could have been much different. We still are very perplexed to how she got out and why. She is not a runner; at fourteen she is a home body and rarely ventures further than one step onto the grass to pee. The only thing I can think of that may have caused this is my absence. She has become very needy in her old age; she was always a girl who liked to know where I was, not a typical needy shadow dog like Luke. But in the last couple of years she has become my shadow; and with her diminishing vision, hearing and smell, she seems to be in need of knowing my location. She becomes fraught when she cannot find me and I often have to go to her; pick her up and reassure her that I am there. I think last nights scenario unraveled as such. She was looking out the front window for me; she may have pushed too hard on the screen door which is very old and it gave way, allowing her to go out onto the balcony. Once there she could not find her way back; the opening was small. Given that the only way down was off the balcony and not being able to see how far down she leaped. Perhaps shaken she became disoriented; easy when you cannot see or hear well.
Even at fourteen; she is one tough cookie who is at the moment curled up on top of my feet.