The last thing he wanted to hear on a Saturday night. Hes gone, I cant find him.
Jay looked up from his study book. Wasnt he with the other two boys? Maybe he is hiding?
But Fred was not hiding. He was missing. I looked through the house & I searched the entire yard. Our smallest Brittany had disappeared.
Jay grabbed his flashlight & his field dog whistle and started hiking around the neighboring properties. Since they were small pups, all of our dogs have been trained by the sound of a whistle. A blast of a whistle means come here and Fred is the most obedient of them all. If Fred hears a whistle, he comes running, no matter how far he has to run. After the first half hour of calls and shrill whistling, Fred did not return to our side. It was clear that he was truly lost.
I took my Avalon & headed west on Leona Avenue; while Jay headed east in the Scion. We drove up and down private driveways yelling Fred! followed by a loud whistle call. Nothing. I drove up hillsides & down canyons to the far end of town. I stopped the car & listened. All I heard was the jubilant celebration of a pack of coyotes as they enjoyed a wintertime feast. I started to cry. Living in wild country is quite beautiful, but this stunning beauty is filled with risks to a dog. Coyotes, mountain lions, fast cars, poison, any number of hazards could take our little boy. I dont know what I would do if he were hurt .or killed. And now, a full hour has passed. Our property is only a few lots away from the Angeles National Forest. He may never be found.
While I thought the worst, Jay did not panic. He went back home. Knowing that Fred is not a fence jumper, Jay reexamined the property one more time. He searched around the temporary home thoroughly & then faintly heard clink clink clink, the sound of Freds identification tags hitting against each other.
Fred was trapped beneath the house & did not know how to get out. Upon opening the trap door to the side of the house, the light of the flashlight shined through the darkened place, with a frightened dog, covered in dirt and dust crouched far away. Come here Fred! Cautious at first, Fred knew to leave the darkness & follow the stream of welcoming light. And when he did, he found his way back to the safe arms that he always loved.
Many of us search high & low for the meaning of life. We often do this by conquering a great task, going on a fantastic voyage, purchasing a fast car, climbing the biggest mountain or finding our way to a mysterious land. We travel far & wide, over land & sea, never realizing that what is most important & what gives us the most meaning is in the place we are least likely to look. At first glance it seems to be elusive, if not missing. But if we look real hard & listen quite carefully, we will find that the search for what truly matters was never far away.
It is not in a canyon, a valley, on a hillside or in a forest. It was never in a mysterious far away land. In the end you will discover that your life has meaning & that what you were seeking was never truly lost. It has always been & will always be beneath the shingled roof with a flickering glow of a fire at the most welcoming place on Gods green earth a place we all call home. Welcome home Fred. You were never lost. We were.
About the author: Alice Benoit is a real property consultant, council person, and dog rescue volunteer. She lives in Leona Valley, California with her husband, three Brittany dogs and her Shepherd/Greyhound mix who thinks he is a Brittany. Read her updates and view her photography on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/alicewollman