This is Fred.
He is a hairy, huffing beast of a dog. He’s barrel-chested and low to the ground and SO DANG STRONG. There is no stopping him when he’s on a mission.
Fred belongs to my sister and brother-in-law, who were out of town last weekend. We really don’t mind dog-sitting for Cousin Freddie, and it makes the boys in my household very happy, particularly this one:
This is Riley. The other of the hairy, huffing beasts.
When we Freddie-sit, we basically let these two goofballs romp and wrestle in the fenced yard all day long, and then we feed them a bunch of treats before sending their fat, huffing butts off to bed.
That’s usually how it goes down.
But last Friday evening, as Kristen was picking me up for a make-your-own-girly-body-products party, SOMEHOW, the fence gate popped open, and Fred took off.
She stopped Riley from following, hollered for Fred to come back (yeah, RIGHT!), and hurried in to tell me what happened.
I mouthed a few words of sass, and we ran out together, looking up and down the street. Freddie was GONE.
“He just BOLTED,” she said. “I called for him, but he was on a mission.”
I have SEEN Fred bolt. I’ve SEEN him on a mission. We’re talking highly-caffeinated-cougars-in-PJ-pants-on-Black-Friday-style here, people. There was no telling where he might be.
We called for him from our yard for a while, then Chad told me to go ahead to my party. He loaded up the (pants-less, of course) boys and began the search for Fred.
I hopped in with Kristen and began firing off text messages to neighborhood friends to keep an eye out for my hairy, huffing, nephew.
Chad and the boys drove up and down the streets yelling, “Fred-diiiiiie! Treeeeeeeats!” from the van window.
“Make sure to look by the sewer place,” Gray said. “He likes stinky stuff. That’s why he’s always sniffing Riley’s butt.”
“I hope an eagle didn’t grab him!” Reed cried.
“Maybe he was just homesick,” said Gray.
“Yeah, maybe he had to take a poop and wanted to do it in his yard,” said Reed.
“Poooop! Poooop! Poooop!” added Miles.
After forty-five minutes, Chad was discouraged. The boys grew quiet.
Gray asked, “Daddy, are we going to keep looking for Fred until we find him?”
“I don’t know, Buddy,” Chad answered. “It’s getting late. He could be anywhere.”
“Daa-AAD! We CAN’T stop looking! We HAVE to find FRED!” he wailed.
There was no way Gray was giving up on Freddie.
Meanwhile, at the party, my phone rang. It was my brother-in-law.
“HELLO?” I whisper-yelled, sneaking away from the shea butter science lab.
“A lady found him!” he said. “She grabbed him off the HIGHWAY over by Ed’s after watching him almost get creamed by a car TWO different times. She got my number off his collar and I gave her directions back to your house.”
Oh, thank God.
Wait, Ed’s Market? Ed’s is in the complete OPPOSITE direction of where Fred ran. Chad never would have checked that side of town. Without the willingness of a stranger who WAS in the right place, I don’t know what would have happened to Fred.
When the woman returned Cousin Freddie, the boys were ecstatic to see him. They jumped up and down on the porch while Chad lead him from the stranger’s car back to our yard.
Gray was SO RELIEVED. He hugged him and petted him and came up for air all full of beast-slobber.
He didn’t holler at Fred for taking off from the yard, or for not listening. He only said, “Freddie! I LOVE you. Why did you run away?”
Why DID he run away? Why do WE run away?
You guys, I am such a dog. We are all a bunch of dogs.
Who of us hasn’t eyed the loose latch on the gate?
Who hasn’t bolted when given the chance?
Who hasn’t run from we-don’t-even-know-what, or been lost without even REALIZING we are lost?
Who hasn’t evaded our own search and rescue party — the Master, the spouse, the friend trying to bring us back to safety, back to the good life?
The one who wants to hug us and say, I love you. Why did you run?
My friends, my hairy, beastly friends, stop running. Stop huffing. Stop playing chicken with highway traffic. (And for goodness sakes, stop sniffing butts.)
If you don’t remember the way, find help. SOMEONE is willing to guide you back. Back to your street. Back to your yard. Back to the promise of treats and some good lovin’ from the ones who never stop pursuing us, even when – ESPECIALLY when, we are running.