I’m so scared.
I’m not really sure where I am. My heart is racing, and everything around here seems very unfamiliar and big. The people passing on the street aren’t stopping to help, and I don’t know what to do. I’ve never felt this way before.
I miss Olivia. Where is home? How did I lose track of where I was? And my collar. I can’t find my collar.
How will I ever get home?
Okay. Let me just calm down for a second. Maybe I’ll just hide beneath this pretty bush with the purple flowers on it, take a deep breath, and think. I need a plan.
My name is Oliver. I am a dachshund puppy with a flair for the dramatic. At four months, I consider myself to be cute, adorable, and very well rounded. My vocabulary, as you can probably tell, is extensive. That’s because Olivia, one of my owners, reads to me all the time.
Oh, Olivia. Where are you?
I will not cry. I’m just lost. All I need to do is figure out how to become unlost. If I start from the beginning I can do that.
Dig, dig, dig.
I have a great sandbox that Olivia’s dad, Jack, built just for me. I spend quite a bit of time digging in it. Sand intrigues me, and I have this urge to burrow into small places. The holes I’d been tunneling all over the yard had started to irritate my owners though, which made the sandbox a good counter to my digging nature.
Today it had rained outside. Soft and gentle, the water fell on the ground, soaking the earth with a good drink as I watched it from the back porch. It had been a long time since it rained, and the cracks in the ground were almost painful to look at. Watching the rain heal those chasms was fascinating, and I could almost hear the Earth sigh in relief.
Of course, I’m also a big fan of mud. Can’t get enough of that stuff! I knew that once the rain was over, there’d be plenty of mud to party in it. My body quivered in eager anticipation.
Normally, Olivia’s mom, Trudy keeps a close watch on me if there’s any chance of mud being around. We’ve had a few disagreements about the wonderful uses of this messy substance, and she hates it when I track it all over the house. Trudy is very closed minded about some things. She has no idea that mud on a white couch is actually a true art form. Oh well. I haven’t given up on her yet.
Today, even though the mud potential is high, Trudy was nowhere in sight. I don’t think she’s feeling well. The last few mornings I’ve found her stretched out on her bed, pale and weak. I guess she’s really sick. Oh well. I could use her absence to my advantage.
Drip by drip the rain slowed until it was just a trickle on the lawn. I ventured out into the wet grass and headed straight for the fence. My girlfriend, Bonnie Belle, wasn’t out yet, but there was plenty of mud. I picked a spot by the front of the gate and began to dig.
It wasn’t long before I was deep in my hole, tunneling. The mud flew everywhere, covering my long, red body, but feeling so wonderful against my paws. Before I knew it, I’d dug right under the fence and was now on the other side.
Cautiously, I looked around, certain that any moment someone would call out my name and catch me. But no one did. Wow. Freedom. It lay before me, and all the things I’d always wanted to do ran through my mind. Take a walk to the park. Visit that old man down the street that always smells like meatloaf. Run as fast as I can on the sidewalk. Chase cats. The possibilities were endless.
Now I know that I’m not supposed to leave the back yard. But my collar was on, everyone else was distracted, and the world was mine for the taking. What self-respecting dachshund would pass up an opportunity like that? Not me! With a little yip, I took off running.
The park seemed like the best destination, but as I got about half way there, a female cat darted across my path. It paused at the sight of me, green eyes narrowing. The gray hair all over its body puffed up,and it sent a warning hiss. I stared back, showing just a hint of my pearly white teeth. Momma always says never to show fear to a cat, and though this cat was much fatter than me (I’m a slim trim kind of pup), I wasn’t scared. Cats are cowards! My mother told me that all you had to do if a cat bothers you is run at them as fast as you can. Bam! They would take off like a shot.
So I waited and then slowly began edging my way towards the cat.
“You better watch yourself, little pup,” she hissed at me as I got closer. Her claws shot out.
“You better start running, kitty cat.” I think I sounded brave, but I was actually starting to feel nervous. I mean, she was huge. What if she didn’t take off?
“Don’t make me hurt you.” Her tail twitched a warning.
“Ha! As if you could.”
That’s when I ran at her. Unfortunately, this cat held her ground. Just as I was about to give her a good chew, she swatted at me with her paw. The force sent me flying and I hit the ground hard. Dazed, I rolled over and saw her coming towards me. I debated the wiseness of trying to attack her again, but since I was sincerely afraid she might squash me by sitting on me with her massive frame, I took off. I could her yowling at threats as she followed.
Darting through a nearby yard, my collar snagged on some bushes. Panic filled me as I struggled to untangle myself. With a quick yank of my head, I pulled free. However, the collar snapped open. I had no choice but to leave it behind. I ran and ran, crossing unfamiliar streets, running past strangers as that demon cat chased me.
Finally, I stopped and listened. I didn’t hear her anymore. Maybe she’d given up!
As I looked around, it dawned on me that I had no idea where I was. None of the houses around me were familiar. I sniffed, but the familiar smells of my street weren’t even a faint whisper on the ground. I headed back the direction I thought I’d come from, but I wasn’t sure I was going the right way. I hadn’t given any thought to direction when I ran from the cat.
That’s when the panic started. I didn’t have my collar anymore. How would my owners find me? People walked by but none appeared to care about little old me. True, I wasn’t as cute as I normally appeared since dried mud coated every inch of my fur. And I was afraid that awful cat would find me again. Self-doubt and guilt nagged at my conscience. Inever should have dug that hole under the fence!
Now as I sit here under the bush, the fear settles in. I don’t know what to do. But just as I am settling down into the depths of despair, I hear a voice.
The voice calls out my name. It’s not close enough yet for me to identify it, but my heart begins to lift with the possibility that it might be someone I know.
My tail wags and I crawl out from under the bush. I cock my head to the side and listen again.
“Oliver! Where are you?”
That’s Olivia! I sniff the air and give a little bark. Determined, I begin to follow the sound of her voice and her scent.
“Oliver!” She calls again.
I bark and there she is, rounding the corner. At the sight of me, her face breaks into a happy smile. I run towards her, pleased to see that she is running towards me, too. The next thing I know, I am in her arms and covering her with kisses.
“Where have you been?” she asks, giggling. “Where is your collar?”
She carries me back to our house where Jack waits for us on the front porch, looking worried. When he sees me, his face relaxes. I notice that he is holding a muddy shovel.
“He lost his collar, daddy,” Olivia says.
“We’ll get him a new one. But first he needs a bath. Your mother is going to flip out when she sees how dirty he is.” Jack shook his head. “I already filled in the hole by the back fence. We just need to keep a really close eye on him from now when he’s outside after a rain. Puppies can be a little too curious for their own good.”
“He was just exploring, weren’t you, Oliver?” Olivia kisses the tip of my nose and I wag my tail.
As she carries me inside, all I can think is, the outside world is an interesting place, but I am glad to be safe at home.
(…to be continued)