Wednesday, June 28, 2006


In Which You Aren't the Only Ones Tired of Cliffhangers...

While I was trying to get the poor, tired Brownie to explain exactly who stole Blaze and how he was stolen, the back door opened and in walked Her Lovely Self, holding a leash and a box of dog treats.

"So, not stolen, but just run away?" I asked hopefully, pointing at the box of biscuits.

HLS stared at me and without so much as a "Hello" or "glad you're back," she simply said, "Your dog has slipped out of that damn collar three times since you've been gone!"

Ah, the collar. Blaze's old one had snapped and just before I left I had bought him a new one that I thought I had adjusted properly. But it's one of those anti-choke collars so that if he gets caught on some potentially strangling protrusion--a low branch, a porch railing, the side mirror of a passing car--it'll release. But it's not supposed to release when he's just running around on his dog run in the back yard.

As my suffering bride recounted, Blaze managed to slip out of his collar on three occasions, all of them to chase rabbits out of the yard. As good a dog as he is, unexpected freedom sometimes goes to his head and in the past he has riot through the neighborhood. But ever since he got the behavioral training where you learn to speak his language, HLS has been able to growl at him and call him back.

"Which is exactly what I did those three times," HLS explained. "And he came right back. I tightened the collar back up and left him on the run while I got the kids ready for bed. When I came down 20 minutes later to let him in, he'd slipped his collar again. That was four hours ago."

I breathed a small sigh of relief. In the past, Blaze has vanished for as long as 12 or 14 hours and had been out in the dark at least one other time. But--

"Why do you think somebody stole him?" I asked the Brownie.

"I saw a man out my window upstairs," she said emphatically. "He ran around the corner. I think I saw Blazey with him."

I looked at Her Lovely Self, who was shaking her head.

"Joe was out in his yard with his dog," she said. Our neighbor Joe's back yard is at a diagonal to ours and easily visible from the Brownie's window. Whenever he gets home, the first thing he does it let his little Corgi out and run around with him in the yard. Blaze looks nothing like a Corgi, of course, but it was dusk and the Brownie had a tendency to exaggerate, which I'm afraid is congenital.

"Did Joe happen to see Blaze?" I asked.

HLS shook her head. "I asked him. He had just come home and Blaze had already gotten loose. Otherwise, he'd have rushed right over to see Joe and the dog." I nodded. Blaze loved that Corgi and would have run straight to him, so he was already on loose, sometime between 6:30 and 7.

I tried to assure the Brownie that Blaze would probably turn up in the morning and that we should try to get some sleep. I sure needed it. But my daughter wasn't letting me off the hook so easily.

"Dad," she said, in her here-come-the-instructions voice, "Aren't you going to go drive around and look like you did last time her ran away at night?" She didn't care that I was dead on my feet. She wanted her Blazey back. And in the end, I guess it was her sense of urgency that compelled me to agree. Other times that Blaze had slipped his collar, she'd never been terribly upset (even though he'd had some close calls with passing cars on at least two occasions). For some reason, though, this disappearance bothered her more than any other. Therefore, it bothered me.

Thus it was that I found myself trolling the sodium-lit streets of my neighborhood for the next three hours, car windows down, alternately calling my dog's name and leaning out the window to shake a box of Milk Bones. After a fairly thorough traversing of the streets, I steeled myself for the hard part: going out onto the busy boulevard at the edge of our development and looking for a body.

Thankfully, I found just two--an opossum and a deer. But Blaze has dark coloring and if--God forbid--he got hit and knocked into a ditch, I wouldn't necessarily have spotted him. I'd have to look again in the morning, which was coming all too soon. I turned around and headed for home.

I parked in the driveway, and sat for a moment, car door open, calling my dog's name and shaking his box of treats. He can hear my car from a long ways off--he's taken to greeting me at the door when I come home from work. Maybe the sound of me pulling into the driveway would make him head for home. I sat there and waited.

Next thing I knew, it was dawn, Tuesday morning. I had fallen asleep in my car in the driveway. With the door open, with the courtesy light burning away all night. Which meant that the battery was dead. Also, I had spilled the entire box of dog treats onto my lap. My pants were completely impregnated with the dog-treat dust.

And still no Blaze. I went around back just to be sure. As I did, I almost clotheslined myself on the cable that stretches across the yard and acts as Blaze's run. It was perfectly secure and intact, but it tends to sag every now and then and I have to tighten it periodically.

As I ducked under the line, I saw the other cable--the leash cable that depended from the runner cable and attached to Blaze's collar. This one:


I stared at it dumbly for a moment, the catch looking for all the world like a small metal question mark. Then I jiggled it so it would make a ringing noise. Blaze loves his runner and that noise had brought him back before. But after a few minutes, it was clear he was nowhere in earshot.

I went back to the car, got the jumper cables out and opened the garage door so I could jump-start my car with HLS's van. I was so exhausted at this point, it was as though I was moving through a hazy dream. I did however manage to restart my car and while I let it run so the battery could charge, I brushed out all the dog treats from my car and put them in a bowl by the front of the house. Blaze never missed a meal and once he got hungry enough, he'd come back and find this bowl. I hoped.

When I satisfied myself that my car was sufficiently recharged, I started to unclamp the jumper cables, but in my fatigue I must have touched something I shouldn't have because, for a brief moment, I got the most intense electrical shock that run up my thumb straight up my shoulder and neck, and on into my skull, effectively jump-starting my brain as well as my car.

"Oh shit!" I cried to no one in particular.

I dropped the cables, left the cars running and dashed into the house. Early risers that they are, HLS and Thomas were just coming down the stairs. Thomas hadn't seen me since I came home, so he yelled with delight and tackled me.

HLS just stared. "Are you still wearing your clothes from last night?" she asked.

I ignored her question, in favor of one of my own. "Where is it?" I asked.

"Where's what?" she wondered.

"Blaze's collar. You said he slipped out of it. Where is it? You brought it in, right?"

She and Thomas looked at each other and shrugged. "No," she finally said. "It's probably still out there hooked on his dog-run like all the other times."

"I was just out there," I said. "There's no collar attached to the leash on the run. So if none of you unhooked it and brought it in then--"

HLS put a hand to her mouth. "--then Blaze didn't slip out of his collar," she said, somewhat mortified.

Thomas looked at me. "I don't get it. How did Blazey unhook himself?"

"That's what I mean," I said, feeling my mouth go dry. "He can't. Someone must have unhooked him."

Thomas opened his mouth to say something else, but he was drowned out by a loud cry from behind him. Startled, we all jumped and turned. There on the stairwell, in rumpled jammies and fright wig hair, was the Brownie, looking more furious and righteous than I've ever seen her.

"I TOLD you someone stole Blazey!!" she shrieked, then she began to cry. A second later, so did Thomas.

I felt like joining them myself...



I yell both for the events and for the ...

Damnit. This is so not sounding good.

Tell me that Blaze is home! He has got to be home. He's just got to be. Or on his way.
Oh dear. I really hope this has a happy ending. I can't stand it. If you need contributions for a reward...
That's not right at all. It definitely can't end that way. No. No no no.

Damnit, no.
Ok, I really wanted to use the f-word in this comment, but I am not sure if everyone here is comfortable with such language.

That said, I am really mad now. There's no way I'll be able to concentrate on the rest of the news with Blaze missing!

My first guess is that this has something to do with Joe.

Also, are you kidding with the jumper cables?!? You always pay strict attention to such a maneuver. You'll give me a heart attack! Also yourself, no doubt. Boy, if you don't apologize, I've half a mind to tell your father, who I'm sure would give you what for.
Okay, you call this post the one "in which you aren't the only ones tired of cliffhangers" and what do you do? You leave us with another cliffhanger!

Damn you!

But I do still hope it works out.
After the post I closed my ears and said "la la la la la la"

I really hope Blaze is back home safely...
Blaze wouldn't let a stranger into his yard would he? or go with a stranger for that matter?

Poor Brownie and Art lad. How upsetting to think someone entered your yard and meddled with your pet, a member of your family!

I hope this all works out.

Don't make us wait too long to hear that Blaze is safely home again.

Please, don't leave us dangling from this precipice for too long...

(I tell ya, traipsing about for nearly a week, Jenny, then a cliffhanger like this??)

I do hope that Blaze is safe and sound and covered in Brownie kisses.
That's awful, MM. I hope you find/found Blaze safe and sound.

And I'm with Stu: you need to take better care with the jumper cables, particularly if you're so beat. Actually, I think if you wake up covered in milk bones, that's a good sign someone else should jumpstart the car or you should take a nap first.

I hope Blaze made it home all right. I'm worried about the similarities between his case and the other dog who went missing in your neighborhood recently...although it seemed like the most probable suspect there had been caught already.
Chuck, that's exactly what I thought of :/
Oh please, please tell us what happened.

Tell us that Blazey came home safe and sound, (maybe a little tired and hungry) and that you found Jenny in your laptop bag...


I *really* need some good news right now!
Now hang on: you expect me to believe that Blaze would let a total stranger enter the yard and let him off the run without going absolutely barking mad in fierce doggish protectivity?

I don't buy it.

Drop the other shoe, already! You're killing me.
Oh, MM. I truly hope you aren't still living through a cliffhanger of your own. What a nightmare. Thinking good thoughts for Blaze and the rest of you...
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