Dog people are a different breed, if you’ll pardon the pun. I am a dog person, but I’m not dog “people.” Yes, my dog sleeps on my bed and yes, I let him lick me on the face, but really, I’m not one of those crazy dog people. I utterly refuse to allow my dog to wear clothes. No sweaters, no vests, no berets. For one, it seems very degrading to the dog. I can’t imagine they enjoy it. Well, maybe poodles do. For two, it just looks crazy. If dogs were meant to wear clothes, they wouldn’t have all that fur. And for three, a dressed up dog makes both it and the owner look gay.
However, what non-dog people don’t understand is that a dog really does become part of the family. Not on the same level as an actual family member, hopefully, but they fill a role and you can find yourself getting very attached to them, even as an adult. Even as an adult male. It begins to seem very odd to think of them not being around. Anything that’s been a part of your life for up to a decade or more will be missed when it’s gone. They add all sorts of drama to an otherwise mundane existence. They make you laugh, they make you angry, they keep you up at night, they are always glad to see you. And sometimes, they scare the living crap out of you.
We have a dog. His name is Jackson. Short for Action Jackson, though he bears little physical resemblance to Carl Weathers. He’s a hyperactive, three-year old pound puppy and is something of a legend in our social circle. Sometimes I think we brought this on ourselves by giving him a name like Action Jackson. Maybe if we had named him Leisurely Larry or Kickback Karl, he’d be a little more subdued. The stories of Jackson’s antics could fill several blogs, such as this past Christmas when he stole an entire wedge of brie off the living room coffee table and inhaled it in exactly 3.7 seconds. Truly remarkable. Today however may go down as his most memorable, and infamous, episode to date. At least for Jen.
I was off in the Jeep (remember that) to CompUSA to buy myself a new power supply for my crappy computer, a whole other story in itself. About halfway to the store I realized I’d forgotten my cell phone. “No matter,” I thought, “this should be a quick trip.” I got to the store, took my time, there was no rush. Checked out some hard drive enclosures, inspected the latest offerings in PC gaming, paid for my power supply and left. I was hungry, so I thought I’d treat myself to a little KFC on the way home (Snacker combo). I arrived home after about an hour and a half and noticed Jen’s parents’ car in our driveway. I figured they happened to be at Ross near our house and just popped in for a visit. I walked in the house, and Jackson greeted me at the door as usual. I greeted him in the high-pitched voice all dog peop…uh, a person who owns a dog, uses to greet their pooch when they arrive home. Everything seemed to be in order. I came into the living room from the kitchen as Jen was entering from the hall. That’s when I got THE LOOK. Uh….oh. Something was not right. “Why didn’t you have your phone with you?” Uh, I forgot it. “Jackson was lost! Go downstairs and listen to your messages.”
Now, I should give a little background at this point. This has been kind of a hectic week. Jen has recently become a PartyLight candle consultant (click here for great deals on fantastic candles and candle accessories) and had her first two shows this week, including one this very afternoon, plus a practice show. In addition, she started a new job at a restaurant, Flavor, and this was only here second week and was still learning how crazy the eatery biz can be. On top of all this, I haven’t been much help around the house as I have been wrestling with my crappy computer to try to finish some video projects whose deadlines are looming. So it’s been a bit nuts around the Hacienda de Bauer. Tensions have been running high.
I went downstairs as ordered and grabbed my phone off the charger. In my defense, it had died earlier that morning and so it was still on the charger when I left. I turn it on, five new voice mails. The first two were unrelated to any canine shenanigans. The third one was angry, “Why don’t you answer your phone. Jackson is gone! You have my car and I can’t get a hold of anybody! Call me back!” We have two cars, a Jeep Cherokee and a Toyota Tercel. The Tercel is a stick and though I believe our marriage is established enough for the challenge, I have not yet endeavored to teach Jen how to drive it. She wasn’t going to need the Jeep and it has air conditioning and I didn’t plan on Jackson escaping, so naturally that’s the car I took. Ok, the fourth message was distraught, “[sobbing] Why aren’t you picking up your phone? I don’t know what to do!” Does it make me a bad husband that I was having a hard time not laughing at this point? Fifth message, “[sobs] [more sobs] [something uninteligible] [more sobbing] .” At this point, I’ve got a perma-grin on my face. I felt bad that she had to endure this alone, but it struck me as funny that I was out enjoying myself perusing the aisles of the local CompUSA and treating myself to KFC, blissfully unaware that Jen was dealing with what she thought was Jackson’s certain death. That probably sounds really bad.
So, here is what transpired while I was away. Jackson had been outside on his chain, and Jen wanted to bring him back to the house. We usually enter the house through the back kitchen door at the top of a concrete stairway. Just past the kitchen door behind our house is a hill that resembles the forest moon of Endor. Trees and vines grow twisting and untamed. At the top of the hill is the backyard of a house in a relatively sparsely populated neighborhood amongst more trees and some winding roads. Basically, a good place for a dog to get lost. Blacktail deer, Jackson’s apparent nemesis, often frequent our thicket. Before Jen could hook her finger through his collar to bring him upstairs, he spotted one of these deer and was off like a deer-seeking missile. Jackson is fairly obedient when indoors. Outside, all bets are off. No amount of calling or yelling was getting him back as long as that deer was still in range. Jen ran up after him and tried to scale the hill to chase him down. The hill is pretty steep and covered in fallen dry leaves that don’t make for great footing. She ended up slipping onto her backside and sliding about 15 feet down the hill. Undeterred, she found another way up, using the ivy as a rope to pull herself up. Finally reaching the top, Jackson was nowhere in sight. She called to him, but received no response. She began knocking on doors. One friendly person let her use her phone to call for help. Jen called my cell, no response. She called her parents, busy. She called my parents, no answer. The neighbors friend offered to drive Jen back to our house. Upon arriving home, hysteria began to set in.
Remember earlier when I said that Jackson was the closest thing we have to a child? Well, I wasn’t joking. We love our dog and it would be tough if he were to run off or worse. Probably tougher than is healthy. For Jen especially. I love my wife. She is smart and funny and godly and generally awesome. But she does have a tendency to assume the worst. If I’m home 20 minutes late from basketball, I must have been killed in a terrible terrorist attack/automobile accident. Ok, maybe that’s a little hyperbole, but you get the idea. Once Jen got home, she burst into tears, assured that Jackson was lost forever or now a decorative furry hood ornament. She called me again; probably about the time I was checking out the latest 250 GB hard drives. Then she thought, surely Josh will help me. I don’t have a brother, but if I did it would Josh. You may know him as the Future Expositor. Still sobbing, she called him, and after being assured that it wasn’t me who was dead he headed over to assist in the search and rescue, even bringing reinforcements, the Browns. Yes, The Browns. Klugespot himself and family. As they were on their way, Jen went next-door to our neighbor Jeff to enlist his assistance. He immediately hopped on his bike and started casing the neighborhood. This despite the fact that Jackson bursts into a barking fit whenever he sees Jeff. Jeff is highly experienced in this type of operation, as he has assisted many a motorist who has driven into the creek across the street from our house. When Josh arrived, he and Jen drove the streets of the neighborhood calling out Jackson’s name. The Browns did the same.
It was about this time that Jen was finally able to reach her parents. If there is anyone who loves Jackson as much as Jen, and me it’s her parents. When Jen told her mom that Jackson was missing, her only response was, “Good Lord Jesus!” An instant prayer for divine assistance. On top of the trauma of losing the dog, Jen had a PartyLight show in about two hours from this time, only her second one, and was afraid she was going to have to cancel. And then she heard it. As Josh slowed the car near the house directly above ours on the top of the hill, Jen heard a familiar bark. “That’s Jackson’s bark!” They stopped the car and ran toward the sound. There they saw Jeff crouched in the ivy tossing treats to Jackson, trying to coax him to come. Of course, Jackson just stood there and barked. He was still on our property. Like I said, our backyard is quite the jungle, so it wasn’t hard not to find a dog that only stands two feet off the ground. He spotted Josh and Jen and started to get excited but couldn’t get through the fence that was between them. They drove back down the hill to our house and called out his name, and Action Jackson came bounding down the hill and right into the open kitchen door. The day was saved. Ironically, he was right near the very neighbors house that has threatened to call Animal Control on both Jen and me and Jeff for our barking dogs.
It was probably about this time that I was driving home and finishing my second KFC Snacker, still oblivious to what was happening on the home front. My mind on the task at hand of swapping out my power supply. None of this was my fault, right?
Once I had listened to my voicemails and sufficiently apologized for not having my phone, Jen was in better spirits and we were able to look at our crazy dog and laugh. I guess dog owners are a little bit crazy to voluntarily put themselves through this much drama for the sake of furry, smelly, slobbery, four-legged beast. But at least my dog doesn’t wear a beret.
Thanks to everyone who helped in the S.A.R. effort. We appreciate good friends who are willing to abruptly drop what they are doing on a Saturday afternoon to scour the woods for a little lost furball with pointy ears. Below is picture of Jackson reclining in his chair after his day of exploration and adventure.