Monday, February 17, 2014

Terror of the Missing Roo

We’ve all experienced that moment of sheer fear in our lives.  One of those times for me was during a very difficult, stressful period when my brother unexpectedly died at the age of forty-nine and left me in charge to handle my family’s estate, including a twenty acre farm. (A momentous, disastrous obligation that lasted five years.)

My boys were only two and six at the time.  The minute we would get to the farm on the weekends, some sort of beacon went up letting everyone know that we had arrived.  We were there to sort through things and make decisions, but people poured in trying to snap up what they could. I was elected to deal with them.

On one particular day, rain drizzled down and reflected my gray, dark, cold, gloomy mood.  I didn’t want to do this.  I didn’t want my brother gone.  I asked my two nieces (ages nine and ten) to keep an eye on my boys while I handled the buyers.  I didn’t know what I was doing.  What did I know about the price of farm equipment?  But these men were after what they wanted, badgering me and prodding me to sell and arguing amongst themselves over who got what.  My heart ached.  I wanted to be responsible, but I felt like curling up in the fetal position and weeping.

Every decision was difficult, but finding homes for my brother’s animals, and especially his three dogs, weighed heaviest on my mind.  As much as I wanted to and loved them, we already had three dogs and just couldn’t take on more, especially work dogs—a Blue Heeler and an Australian Cattle dog. His third dog was a sweet Schnauzer named Smokey.  Everyone wanted to adopt him.

As I passed by my nieces, I noticed my youngest wasn’t with them.

“Where’s Roo?” I asked.

The girl’s looked at each other and shrugged.

My heart dropped into the boiling acid suddenly spurting in the pit of my stomach.  I frantically scanned the area to no avail.  Racing to the house, I informed everyone to begin searching.  We combed the house, the barns, the sheds, the shops, the milk barn, the stockyard, the pens and the fields.  No Roo.

How far could a two-year-old get?  Him in his little cowboy hat, boots and leather vest.  Him who adored his uncle, emulated him, and would only take off his cowboy hat when my brother did. The rain soaked through my clothes and skin and chilled my bones.  What was the cold rain doing to my baby?  Was he calling for me and I wasn’t there? A gut-wrenching moment ensued. Tears pooled in the corner of my eyes, and I shook uncontrollably. Images of what could have happened flashed in my mind, and I could barely hold back the scream trying to escape my lips.   Where could he be?

And then my husband noticed that one of our dogs was also missing—Asta, our Wire-haired Fox Terrier.  I raced down the quarter-mile muddy road leading to the farm and eventually found a visible paw print.  Farther along, I found a tiny cowboy boot print meandering behind the paw prints.  They continued down the road and up the hill to a wooden bridge covering a canal.  My heart nearly exploded in my chest.  No, there wasn’t water in the canal at this time of year, but with all the rain, there were fairly deep puddles in the bottom.  The fall alone could have left him…dead. Bile rose to my throat.

I crossed the bridge, looking down both ways as far as I could see.  No dog. No precious little boy.  I picked up their trail farther down the dirt road.  The tracks continued toward the city street and houses.  Despite the chill in my bones, sweat poured from my head, and I had to keep wiping my eyes.  I held my breath as I looked up and down the street with busy cars moving in both directions. No dog. No Roo.

All that I had been burdened with and felt so responsible for meant nothing compared to the thought of losing my son. I wanted those minutes back.  I wanted him in my arms.

A woman approached me.  “Are you looking for something?”

“Yes, yes, our son, our dog.  Our two-year-old must have followed our dog off the farm.  Have you seen them?”

“I’ve called the police,” she said, glaring at me like I was the worst mother on the planet.

“Fine.  Are they all right? Where are they?”  My mind whirled with all the implications, but I didn’t care.  I just wanted them to be safe.

A police car rolled up and the woman rushed over to him, frowning and pointing at my husband and me.  The woman headed up the street, but the police officer detained us, asking all kinds of questions.  Who can remember what he asked?  I wanted to scream, “Give me my son.”  But, I didn’t want the police officer to think I was unstable.

Yes, I admitted to myself, I am a horrible, awful mother.  Just please let me see my son and dog alive.

And then there came our tri-colored dog, trotting out of one of the box houses up the street.  Behind him came a little boy in a cowboy hat, vest and boots.  He ran toward me with his arms out, calling, “Assa, walk.”

I dropped to my knees, sobbing, grateful and exhausted. The woman told us she had seen them wandering down the middle of the street with cars coming and had taken them home. I’m so thankful that Heavenly Father watched over them and were taken in by someone who took good care of them until they were found.
Cindy A. Christiansen
Sweet Romance, Humor, Suspense…and Dogs!
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  1. Awe.. Thank goodness that they were found safe and sound.

  2. Cute pictures and a great story. We all feel like bad parents from time to time. So glad this had a happy ending!

  3. This is something you never get over! Thanks for commenting, Beckey and Barbara.


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