When Dusty was a puppy, our house was divided on what to call him. The boys voted for “Shadow.” The girls voted for “Dusty.” (After Dusty Strings Harps in Seattle, as he was likely the only Dusty I’d ever be able to afford). Over the years it has become clear that we really should have gone with the boys on this one, because Dusty really is a shadow, and it has gotten him into many interesting predicaments.
The problem with being a shadow, is that you are ubiquitous, so people don’t necessarily even notice you following along behind them. On many occasions we’ve lost Dusty, only to follow the sounds of his cries back into the garage. We nipped out there to put out the garbage or grab a tool without knowing he was behind us, and then he was stuck there, sometimes for several hours, until someone noticed him missing and started hunting for him.
He once got stuck in an under-stair cold room that way. He tried to eat his way out through the punch bowl box.
The most traumatic event happened when he was still a puppy. It was a -20 degree Celsius day in Prince George. The snow was about four feet deep in our yards. I had just finished wallpapering my daughter’s bedroom and had given Dusty a bath. He was blown dry, but still a little damp. My husband helped me put the daughter’s heavy mate’s bed into position, then the door bell rang. I went to deal with the salesman and then started on dinner.
After some time, Dusty’s absence was noted. We looked through the house calling for him, we checked the garage and the pantry. He was no where to be found. Then it hit me. When I’d been talking to the salesman at the door, he must have snuck out of the house.
I got in the car and started combing the white streets, calling for him and looking for a freshly trimmed, brown poodle against the snow. Slightly damp, he’d freeze to death out there in short order. I phoned the radio station, the SPCA and the vets offices to put out the word. The whole family was in a panic and tearful over the loss of our little dog who was only a few months old.
Many hours later, my daughter came upstairs to tell us she could hear funny noises. We listened. We couldn’t hear anything upstairs, but in the basement we could make out weak little whimpers. Where were they coming from? We combed the house again, straining our ears, trying to figure out the source of the sound. Eventually, we tracked them into her bedroom. We looked in the closet, behind all the furniture, under the dressers. No sign, and yet a faint little noise was still audible.
Suddenly we realised where he was. We pulled out one of the drawers from her mates bed and sure enough, the volume was louder. We pulled out another drawer and out scrambled a very happy puppy. Somehow when we’d lowered that heavy mate’s bed back onto the ground, he’d gotten stuck in one of the compartments. He’d been stuck there in the dark for about six hours by the time we found him.
These days Dusty still shadows us, but we’ve gotten better at checking for him before we shut doors behind us. He has also gotten much louder at letting us know he’s left out. His demanding woof is louder than OJ’s, and OJ outweighs him three times! This is a lesson. If you’re too close to the big people, you may get into situations where you’re left alone in the dark. Shout loudly, and someone will rescue you.