Nolan the vanishing Great Pyrenees
Monday, October 7 2013
Last night I stayed up until 4 or 5AM working on Lightroom plugin development, then woke up early and continued with the work. I can definitely feel a dullness to my mental organ when I'm working on limited sleep, but I expected to be presenting the plugin to the client later this morning, and it needed more work. It was also my job to walk the dogs in the window provided between passing showers. In the end, the client called to reschedule, moving our meeting to Wednesday.
The weather was freakishly warm today, though there was forecast for storms. Those storms arrived this afternoon as a terrifying squall line with winds that kept getting stronger and stronger and heavy rain pelting against the west side of the house. But after about five minutes, the winds had died down to almost nothing while the downpour continued. I looked at the satellite map weather radar map and saw the line of harsh weather was very narrow but extremely long, extending up from Pennsylvania to Montreal.
Gretchen called from the road at some point asking for navigational advice. (Take I-78 or I-84? we decided I-84.) She was on her way home from her ten day book tour, having spent the night in Wheeling after beginning her homeward drive yesterday in Lexington, Kentucky. One of her dog rescuer friends had coerced her into bringing a "rescued" purebred Great Pyrenees back from Kentucky, and the dog had already rewarded her by shitting on her motel bed.
When Gretchen pulled into the driveway at around 4:30pm, she was a basket case from all those hours alone on the road. By the time I got down to her, she was sobbing all over Ramona, who was more curious about the enormous white dog in the back seat than anything else.
The dog's name was Nolan, and he didn't want to get out of the car. So I left him there with the door open while I went inside to talk to Gretchen. She was cursing herself for being "too nice": doing a poorly-attended reading at an outlet of a regional bookstore chain in Lexington, Kentucky when she knew it would be a waste of time. And she was also angry about agreeing to the favor of transporting Nolan. Neither of us are fans of "rescuers" who transport dogs from rescue-unfriendly areas to supposedly rescue-friendlier places such as New York; we have our own dogs in need of rescuing. In the case of Nolan, he's a young but low-energy charismatic purebred. He'd be highly adoptable anywhere.
A few minutes later, Gretchen went out to the car to get something and saw that Nolan had disappeared. Where had he gone? We looked around the yard and shouted for him (which was a little absurd since his name had only been Nolan for a few days; I think he'd gone by Snowball before that). Not knowing what else to do, I climbed in the car and drove all the way down Dug Hill Road to Hurley Mountain Road. If there had been a big white dog running in that direction. I would have seen him. Meanwhile Gretchen had driven the Subaru up the Farm Road and found him within a quarter mile. He refused to get in the car, so Gretchen abandoned it. While I was there to "salvage" the car (that's how I put it), I gathered some easy firewood and nice chunks of bluestone. Disaster averted.
I made some quinoa pasta (it's surprisingly good) with red sauce and Gretchen and I ate it in the living room in front of a cardboard fire in the stove. We talked about her trip: the ups, the downs, and whether or not she should go back on Celexa. I suggested she give herself a little time; with the stress of a book tour behind her, she might find that she can handle her moods without it. She had, after all, been doing well for several Celexa-free weeks before the tour.
Nolan the dog didn't know how to use the stairs, so he stayed downstairs later when Gretchen and I watched a couple programs on the television. He was somewhat restless and we could hear him pacing around the floor for awhile, but we didn't think much about it. It was only when Gretchen went down the stairs and saw that Nolan had vanished yet again that we realized the folly of leaving him unattended. Evidenly he knows how to use pet doors, even the kind designed for dogs half his size.
So again we set off as separate search parties. Gretchen went up the Farm Road all the way to the farm, but couldn't find him there. As for me, I drove first up Dug Hill Road to the fake rebar spider web and and then down Hurley Mountain Road nearly to Tongore (four miles away). It had occurred to me that both the Farm Road and Hurley Mountain point in the general direction of Kentucky and it was possible that Nolan had gotten it into his head that he should walk back home. He may have reached the south end of the Farm Road, walked through the steep trackless wilderness to Hurley Mountain Road, and then continued southwestard. He'd had over an hour to get the jump on us, though it seemed unlikely he could have gotten as far as Tongore in that time. I looked for large white beasts on the side of the road, but all I saw instead were a number of deer. Always the pragmatist, I was thinking at this point that if Nolan really had decided to take off, there was nothing we could do about it at this point and we might as well start preparing our story for whoever it is who is supposed to pick him up. He didn't even have any identifying information on his collar.
When I got back to the house, I found that Gretchen had again managed to find Nolan, this time in the scrubby field between the Farm Road and our uphill neighbors (41.93094N, 74.108577W). She would have never known to look there, but at some point he began barking. Gretchen was so excited to recapture him that she ignored her cellphone when she heard it fall out of her pocket. And she'd also lost her wallet somewhere in that field. At this point they both seemed like a small price to pay for not having to explain Nolan's disappearance to the dog rescue crazies.
Gretchen quickly found her phone, but her wallet proved elusive. We figured it would be much easier to find in the full light of day.
As for Nolan, we tied him to a table leg in the kitchen and barricaded the pet door for good measure. We also put a tag on his collar that identified him as "Eleanor" and gave our phone number and address. As we took such measures, we could be heard muttering things like, "What a fucking useless dog!" and "He should have just been euthanized!" and (of course) "Ramona would never do that!" I told Gretchen that if she ever said yes to such a favor again I would personally strangle her.
For linking purposes this article's URL is:feedback
previous | next