January 11, 2012

Home Again

Or: two of the most stressful days of my life.

Remember how we went home for Christmas? And how while we were there, we were housesitting for SIL who was on her honeymoon? Maybe I left that part out.

Anyway, we were house AND dog sitting for her golden lab, Leroy. Yes, we had Achilles, Jeb and Leroy.

At first, it seemed like a match made in Heaven. We needed a puppy-friendly place to stay. They needed someone to take care of their doggy. Our schedules melded perfectly.

We move in and the dogs get along perfectly, like they all grew up together. (Thankfully, Leroy is very laid back and didn't mind our insane pups taking over his yard, his toys and yes, even his bed.) We get everyone settled and happy, and head back across town to our family's to hang out. It's around 9:30 and we get a phone call. From SIL. On her honeymoon.

One of the neighbors has called her. They found Leroy out in the neighborhood. We had to get back - pronto! Unfortunately, we were about 30 minutes from the house. We ran to the car, raced back to the house - red lights may or may not have been observed.

And the whole time I'm freaking out. SIL didn't say whether or not the neighbors had found Jeb and Achilles. They just said Leroy. And if the dogs got split up, why has no one called us? The boys have tags with both our cell numbers. I'm barely holding it together. Why haven't we gotten a call?

We get about five minutes from the house and my phone rings. Same neighbor, saying she has all three dogs. Apparently we had left the garage door up when we left and the dogs got out through the doggy door. But they put them back in the garage, closed the door, and the puppies were nice and safe waiting for us.

Phew. Crisis averted.

The next day, we put the dogs in the backyard when we go into town. We had to go shopping, meet up with family, pretty much run all across the earth. But hey, NBD, right? Put the puppies in the backyard where they have plenty of room to run and play and hang out.

We're talking with my parents about what to do for dinner when we get another phone call. SIL again. Different neighbors. Saw the dogs wandering around the neighborhood. Crap. Another rush home. In the pouring, freezing December rain.

We get to the house and the dogs are nowhere to be found. SoldierMan drives around the neighborhood looking for the boys while I stay at the house in case they double back. Maybe ten minutes later, he comes back with Jeb and Leroy.

No sign of Achilles anywhere.

But he wanted to drop off the other two so he could keep looking without having to worry about them in the car. As soon as he pulls up, he gets a phone all from Home Again, the service the puppies' microchips are registered with. Someone else in the neighborhood found the dogs, saw the tags said "El Paso" on them, and thinking Achilles had just made a cross-country trip on his own, called the number on the microchip tag. Turns out, Achilles had sneaked in his garage while the neighbor went outside to get the mail. It looks just like SIL's house, so I think he thought he had found his way home and was just one street off.

We get the boys home and Leroy is pretty chill. Jeb is non-responsive, almost catatonic. I think he was more traumatized at losing Achilles than at being lost himself. Achilles was pissed. At me. Somehow, in his mind, him getting wet, cold, lost and kidnapped was my fault. Everything horrible about his life is my fault. That's just how he rolls.

But, we got them home. I wouldn't have even thought about microchipping the puppies when we got them if it wasn't the law here in El Paso (which I don't really like, I mean, where in the Constitution does the government have the authority to tell me to surgically alter my pet?) however, after this experience, I will never have a pet without a microchip. Because even if their collars had broken off, those microchips would still link them to us.

Moral of the story: microchip your pets. Here, our vet did it for $25. We pay an annual fee of $25 for the registration service. A small price to pay for that kind of peace of mind.

Sub-point: whenever you find a pet without a collar, please take the pet to a vet and have them check for a microchip before you take it upon yourself to rehome it. Just because they don't have a collar, it doesn't mean they don't have a home.

Oh, right, epilogue: Turns out, the second time, the puppies had dug out of the backyard, thanks to all the rain that weekend. So, since we couldn't trust them in the backyard anymore - and couldn't trust the pups not to demolish SIL's Christmas Tree left to their own devices - Leroy got to spend his home alone time in the house, and the boys got to go in the kennel. Which I felt okay about because A) it was only for a limited amount of time for a couple of days and B) they pretty much took to it right away, since they were in the same one and had plenty of room to move around. That got us through the trip. Pretty sure the puppies were even more excited than we were to come home. :)


  1. Oh my goodness! I would have been freaking out!!! My two dogs have gotten out before but luckily I was the one to spot them both times before they'd been out too long. We also have our dogs micro chipped. Glad I haven't had to use it though:) Glad it all turned out well!!

  2. Oh my word. I would have lost my mind if I'd been in your shoes!!!

    And, yeah, I'm a HUGE advocate for microchipping pets. Before we got Jasper, Joe picked up 2 strays in our neighborhood. It was an awful, windy, rainy night and he had found them on his way back from WalMart. No collars. Since we'd been looking into getting a dog {and microchipping and the like}, I suggested we take them to the shelter the next day to see if they had microchips. They didn't. Fortunately, I ran across Home Again's site {I think it was that one anyway} and posted them online. A few hours later the owners emailed us, and then they picked up their pups the next day. So, yeah, big advocate of microchipping here.

    Jasper came to us microchipped because we got him from a shelter. We don't actually have to pay anything to keep his microchip up to date. I'm going to assume that's shelter-related too?

  3. Poor Jeb, such a little stresser, that would have been me if I was a dog so I feel for the sweet guy. Glad they are all safe and sound now! We have our little monster pup microchip-ed(?)because he is always finding a way to get out, especially if a bunny or something get's through the fence that he is chasing. Usually we find him, but it will come in handy one day I am sure.

  4. Both my critters where chipped by the shelters I adopted them from. I did rescue a little long haired chihuahua one day here on post, collar but no tags. She was chipped and registered with the post vet, so they took her in and contacted her owners.

    Since Remy is an escape artist himself, I'm very glad to have the chip. It's also a way to prove that it is your dog should someone try to take him as their own.

  5. Oh my I got stressed just reading this post. Man.

  6. Wow! What an adventure. Florida requires micor-chipping as well, so my aunts dogs are both microchipped. It's nice to know there is a back-up if they lose their collars.

  7. Oh goodness, there is nothing quite as scary as having your dogs getting out and not being able to find them. I agree, microchipping is so important!

  8. I too would have been extremely stressed out. I have to admit though, reading this post made me giggle. I could totally see our pets putting us through the same kind of ordeal.

  9. Oh lord! That must have been soooo scary! Glad you got them all back. Achilles and Jeb are huge now! That last time I was on here, there were teeny pups! So cute!

  10. Ah! Loose pups is always scary and stressful. Our dogs have gotten out a couple times now in numerous areas and each time I'm a mess until we're reunited. So glad that they're home safe! And I 100% agree with you on the micro chipping, it's essential to getting your pets home safe!


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