"Cookie's gone," he said.
Cookie as in Cookie the Dog:
She is a good little dog. And she always comes when she is called.
"It was the strangest thing," my dad continued. "The dogs and I were out on the deck listening to the bug zapper and I went in to take a shower. When I came out, I couldn't find Cookie anywhere."
A fruitless search ensued. Dad theorized that Cookie had jumped onto the back-door neighbor's garage and off into their yard (my parent's home is on a mountainside, so this is a real possibility). Incredulous, I walked into the backyard and called to my little dog.
And there she was, right in the backyard where my dad had left her.
We all chuckled a bit about how silly she is sometimes and stood on the back deck and listened to the bug zapper for a while. But then we realized something.
Cookie was missing again.
I called out to her, but this time she didn't magically appear out of the dark night like she had before. We thought maybe she had gone into the house, so we searched every room, all three of us calling out her name. We ventured into the front yard with more flashlights, but she was not there. Finally, we took to our cars and slowly combed the neighborhood. Some wonderful neighbors joined in the search, hopping in their own car to look around.
As my dad and I drove down the street at ten miles an hour, yelling for the dog and shining lights into people's yards, I remembered something that had happened to a friend's dog when I was young. Her family had gone on vacation and when they returned, they found their dog dead in the backyard, hanging from it's own collar. It had jumped off a little wall and gotten it's collar hooked on a low branch and had hung itself. As I thought about my dad's theory of Cookie jumping off the back neighbor's garage, this story also became a horrifying possibility. I told my dad to drive to that house.
I got out of the car and snuck into the back neighbor's yard. Telling myself I would need to be prepared for whatever I might find, I marched into the dark. I whispered Cookie's name and softly whistled, but saw and heard nothing for a moment. Suddenly I saw one lone scrub oak with what appeared to be my dog's chest hanging inside of it. The thing was white and speckled with dots just like my dog, and it looked fuzzy, like fur. My heart was racing. I was scared out of my mind. I wanted to scream out to my dad to come help me get my poor dead dog out of this stupid dark tree in this stupid dark backyard.
I crept closer.
But when I got up to the tree and shined my flashlight into it, it wasn't my dog at all. It was a bird. A big, big bird. It was, in fact...
It held stock still, staring back at me. To be honest, it held so still that I thought it was fake. But it had real feathers, and I don't know why anyone would have a real stuffed owl in their backyard.
If I hadn't been frantic over my dog, this moment would have been a smidgen more incredible.
So it wasn't my dead dog in a stupid dark tree in a stupid dark backyard. So we circled the neighborhood several more times and I finally told my dad to take me home, I wanted to retrace what I thought would be Cookie's steps off the garage. As soon as I walked through the front door, Cookie came running. I said, "Where on earth have you been, you naughty girl!" and thinking she was in trouble she ran away again. Only this time I followed her to her secret hiding place.
The only thing I can figure is that both times we thought she was missing, someone was yelling out for her and she thought she was in trouble. When she thinks she's in trouble she hides.
We adopted Cookie two years ago from an organization who had rescued her from an abusive home. She is, to this day, a very sensitive little dog. When things like this happen, I can't help but wonder what happened to her before we got her. I'd like to find the person who abused her and smack 'em around for awhile. Make them afraid of stairs and cars and big people and men and loud noises and being yelled at. Make them very, very afraid.
One thing is for certain, though: I love our Cookie Monster. And I'm glad she is safe and sound, curled up in a little ball and dreaming her doggy dreams.