Safe and Sound

On Friday night, there was a big severe thunderstorm coming in...it was going to be bad. Yellow and red on the radar, and I couldn't wait to get home and enjoy it. My trusty minion, Jennifer, and I were headed to a pet store about an hour away to get animal food, crickets, and other sorts of things for our menagerie of random animals. Louis, my other half, texted me and said he couldn’t find Chica after he’d let her out to potty.

I live in a secluded neighborhood in a national forest. Chica and Chihtwo are never on leashes as they NEVER leave the yard. (Yes, even Chihtwo...the one who kept running home. I think she finally found 'home'.) They stay close and do their business while the two unruly boys do their business on leashes and harnesses and every possible restraint device you can come up with just short of hog tying. (I’m totally kidding…Tad is in a harness on a leash.) Sometimes, Chica will go into the woods, just barely and do her thing and come back out and wait by the door when she’s done. After all, the girl wants some privacy to do her thing, you know.

So, when Louis told me that he couldn’t find Chica, I was not immediately worried. She ALWAYS comes back. …well, as often as I tell folks, ‘…never say never,’ you’d think I’d practice what I preach. Within 30 minutes, Louis is calling and texting over and over in a panic because the weather is not getting REALLY BAD.

From what I got out of him in panic mode, was that he had walked Tad and let Chica out at the same time. She wasn’t yet done, so he ran inside to switch dogs and walk Ruger, his dog. (Since bringing Pebbles into the house, Tad and Ruger cannot socialize via Tad's behaviorist. We've had some SERIOUS 'disagreements'. They are currently kept separate at ALL times.) Louis came back outside and, while walking Ruger, saw Chica walk off into the woods. He went over to get her to bring her back inside, as she is COMPLETELY deaf, you have to touch her if she doesn’t see your Airport Directional Signals. By the time he got to where she went in, she was nowhere to be found.

Jennifer and I hurried as fast as our hour long drive home would allow us. Jennifer called her other half, Matt, to meet us over there with flash lights and changes of clothes because we had all planned to go out to eat after finding Chica.

We joked and such that Chica would be on the porch when we got there and that all would be dandy. I mean, why would MY dog be missing...? I mean...come on.

Chica was not on the porch. Chica was not in the yard. She was not even on the acre.

Matt and Louis had trekked through the woods thoroughly before Jennifer and I were able to get there. My mom was driving the neighborhood…Chica was gone. Absolutely gone. Without a single trace.

Chica is about 14 years old, and she is my absolute soul-dog. I have had this dog since the day she was born and she is THE dog for me. I know you guys know exactly what I’m talking about. We’re all dog people. We know what ‘THE dog’ means.

Chica Bonita - My Soul Dog
She is completely deaf and has a serious heart condition. She recently had surgery to remove quite a few tumors (benign) and her teeth cleaned before she goes into full blown heart failure. She has multiple shaved areas with two week old incisions, she is obviously owned. She was also wearing her collar with three forms of identification tags. She is microchipped AND tattooed. I felt confident that she would be returned to me should someone find her. That’s the ‘calm side’ talking. The other side, the ‘panic side’ was SURE she’d had a heart attack in the storm, fallen somewhere and broke a leg, hit by a car, wandering the wilderness only to be eaten by a bobcat…you know, the worst possible outcomes that could potentially happen.

We searched, in the pouring rain, miles and miles and miles of national forest and muddy dirt roads with flash lights and soggy socks (THE WORST) and shoes.
My Secluded Neighborhood - to show you just how much forest is around us.

I am so very thankful to have these people in my life and to call them friends. Words fail me, honestly. Matt and Jennifer stayed out with us until 1am searching for Chica. You would have to just spot her…as she’s completely deaf, remember? Around midnight, they left to go get pizza for us to eat, and then stayed and offered to keep searching. I cannot possibly thank them enough.

We agreed that there wasn’t much more we could do or search in the pitch black and would be best to wait until the next day…besides, we made ourselves believe that someone had seen her wandering and had taken her out of the storm and into their home.

I left food on the porch with her bed, and we left all the lights on…perhaps they would guide her home. I tried to sleep as best I could. When I woke on Saturday morning, I hoped I’d find her in her bed on the porch, but I did not.

I left for work and as soon as I got there, I had an absolute break down. I had kept myself together for the sake of poor Louis during our 5 hour search the night before. He was already beating himself up about it, as well as in all out panic mode because he lost ‘THE dog’. To be honest, any of us could have lost her. She never needed a leash. (Never say never, friends.) She is literally flawless. Perfection in dog obedience. Louis did what we ALL do and unfortunately, the storm took charge and I believe she got turned around. She couldn’t figure out how to get back out, where to go, and how to get there.

Once my meltdown had calmed a little, I began making posters. I began posting to every possible FB page I could find.
It spread like wildfire.

Louis made MASSIVE posters, that his mother offered to pay for, for the major spots in our secluded area, and printed a TON of papers for every single mailbox in our neighborhood. I faxed every vet clinic and after work, went to walk through both local shelters. I left posters there…some of our clients even took posters! Chica is a regular at the clinic. She goes in the rooms for moral support and when we're giving patients treats, they KNOW her.
...they were massive.
Hundreds upon hundreds of people shared her ‘poster’. People I didn’t even know where posting her poster into groups I wasn’t even a member of. It was…I just…you ALL have my gratitude. I am so very thankful that so many are so good at heart still. A friend of mine and his three kids drove out to my neighborhood and took to the streets to search for Chica. He did find $10 in the woods that he asked if it was our’s…but, no. You can have that. Hahaha.

People were changing their cover photos and profile pictures to images other's had made in an effort to spread the word...

Profile Photo
Cover Photo

After leaving one shelter, I got a notification that someone had seen a post about a lady finding a deaf dog and was holding on to it. The picture looked similar to Chica and both dogs were deaf. Three people had posted saying they had seen it as well, but couldn’t remember where. The search was on. We scoured every possible page we could find. We posted her poster over and over and over.

Around this time, I was coming to peace with…perhaps they’ll take her to a vet on Monday to have her scanned for a microchip. Perhaps they didn’t call because she’s missing her collar with all her ID tags. Perhaps they won’t take her to the shelters because she does have so many shaved areas and incisions. So many thoughts. I was literally shaking.

The county police reporter even shared her image.

My friends were telling me their feeds were FULL of Chica’s poster and it wasn’t all their posts…it was taking our FBs by storm. So many did what they could however they could.

No words for the gratitude and love I have for ALL involved.

Even with this possibility, we (Jennifer, Louis, and I) took the neighborhood; we taped posters to every single mailbox...one by one. Even mailboxes that had plants growing out of them because they’ve never been opened in years. We got many weird looks, some curse words, even! But, it was nice to see some folks walked out to their mailbox to see what we’d left.

200 Copies...determination.

About 100 mailboxes later, my mom calls me. Chica’s been spotted. A man had called her and said about 30 minutes ago, we’d left a poster on his box and he is pretty sure the dog is on his road right now. I might have broken a few laws to get to his street. Lord, forgive me. I arrive and there is no dog. No sign of a dog. No…nothing. Emotional breakdown number 347.87, at this point. We called him back, and he said she had a red collar (which is often confused with pink at long distances) and she looked JUST LIKE the dog on my flyer.

Mid Search Posting
My mom took to driving the neighborhood again, Louis was driving around, and Jennifer and I on foot. In and out of the woods, up and down, in and around.

About 30 minutes of searching this man’s street, and I admitted defeat. She was not here. She was gone…again. We were so close...but so far...AGAIN.

Jennifer and I were walking back to my truck, and in the distance, at the very same time…a little black dog walked across the road and back towards the woods. We both yelled, ‘CHICA!’…as though she could hear us, and off we ran. I ran so fast I don’t need to run for the rest of my life. She is RIGHT THERE and she is not getting out of my sight. Not this time. Not anymore. Lesson learned.

As we got closer, I realized it was, in fact, Chica. The night before I may have given a few opossums heart failure, but it was for a good cause. :/ …but, as we got closer, I saw her collar. I saw her tags. Then, the shaved areas.  I started sobbing. Running full speed after a trotting deaf dog headed back into the dense woods half a mile away is hard enough. Try sobbing, too.


I finally made it to her and basically tackled her. When she figured out I wasn’t some wild wilderness creature trying to eat her, she flipped out. Tail wagging, running in circles, literally flipping out. I just sat…and I cried. Jennifer cried. I cried. Jennifer cried. I cried. You guys…holy moly. The emotional roller coaster was over. It was done. She was back in my world.

I could hardly hold my phone to call the other’s in the search party. One by one, they all showed and we all cried. Omg, so much cries.


The old man who had called, came out of the house and asked if we’d found her. I couldn’t even get the words out of my mouth. He kept asking over and over...like, 'Hello, crazy nutball...did you find the dog?' Hahaha. I gave him a thumbs up, and he returned with a thumbs up and nod.

We took Chica home and everything has since died down. The house is whole and all is right in our world today. She’s muddy. She smells. She has HORRIBLE gas. Her collar is nasty. But…she’s home. My little Siamese Twin is home.

We gathered our reward money for the old man and knocked on his door an hour or so later. I do not live in a ‘nice’ neighborhood, and you could tell this guy probably hurts for a few things. He might turn the money down, but we would offer. He might really need the help…and my gosh, all the money in the world would not be enough for what he helped return to me.Without his 5 minute phone call...she would still be out there...living off the land in a way she's never had to.

Someone else answered the door when we knocked, and said that we had talked to their brother, but he was already asleep. We handed them the money, and left after our ‘thank yous’. (Because some folks aren’t honest, we will call tomorrow and politely thank him and bring it up in a general sort of way to ensure he did legitimately get it. Such is the way the world turns, unfortunately.)

As we were removing the flyers from mailboxes, about 4-5 people called out to us from their porches asking if we had found her. They, too, were thankful. Chica looked out from the back seat, and I know she was happy, too.

What have we learned? We have learned that ‘never say never’ is real. It is raw and it is real. This dog is at my heels, day in and day out, without fail. One unfortunate circumstance, and she was lost. In less than five minutes…she was gone without a trace.

If you shared her poster at all…you are so special and I cannot have the appropriate words for the love and the gratitude for you. If you prayed, wished, whatever you did…the same for you. If you sat on the edge of your seat as this all unfolded (mainly my personal FB)…your support…your care…I just have no words. I thank all of you. Chica is my life…she can never die or disappear. <3