Midgie..the dog you see in the box on the left is my 16yr old Shihtzu/Peke mix.  She is the mascot of the cat house and my baby girl and best friend..probably the only dog I’ll ever have.

Anyway, this morning when we finished our walk, I stopped at the end of our driveway to speak to my neighbor across the street. Harold is 83 and a widower. Once you engage him in conversation, it’s hard to break away.  I had dropped Midgie’s leash thinking she would do what she normally does at the end of our walks, run up the driveway and up the steps and wait for me on the front porch.  Well this time she didn’t.

I must have talked to Harold for about 20 minutes and when I turned up the drive and looked at the porch expecting to see Midgie, she wasn’t there. In fact, she wasn’t anywhere.  In 16yrs, I’ve never lost her. She’s not the kind of dog to wander off by herself without me.  She may walk a little ahead of me sniffing things, but she will eventually stop, turn around and make sure I’m there. If I’m too far behind, she sits down and waits for me.

However, over the past couple of years, her eyesight has started to fail. The vet said her condition is a precursor to cataracts, a hardening of the retina, I think is how he put it. It’s normal for elderly dogs and Midgie’s eyesight has been good far longer than most dogs of her breed who tend to go blind or have eye problems much earlier.   When she was a pup, a vet told me to rinse her eyes once a week at least with saline solution for sensitive eyes. I’ve done that and that coupled with a good diet has allowed her to keep her vision for a very long time.

But still it’s not what it once was and instead of finding the stairs to the front door, she wandered off  between my house and my neighbor’s..into his backyard..and then into the backyard of the house behind him..and apparently, into the street behind me.

Fortunately, we live in a quiet lake community and our street is a horseshoe shape and one Midgie and I have walked around many many times. 

When I realized she was no where around I began to call her and ran frantically around my house and my neighbor’s in a total panic. Not only does she not see well, she doesn’t hear well anymore either. Sometimes she hears me just fine I think because she responds to what I’m saying and sometimes she ignores me.  When I come home from work, she no longer hears the car pull up and she continues to sleep long after I’ve walked in the door. When she was younger, she would be barking and wagging her tail and jumping up and down as soon as I opened the door.

So there I was, in a total panic, no Midgie and even though I was calling her, I knew she probably couldn’t hear me so there was no chance of her coming to my call.

After searching both yards on either side of mine, I ran back into the street not sure which way to run first..did she go up the hill to the left as we usually do when we start our walks? Or did she go back down to the right towards the horseshoe bend on the right on the lake? 

Just as I looked to the right, I see her, way down at the bend, running towards me at top speed, her leash dragging behind her.  She couldn’t see me, but I knew she was running home. I ran to meet her and scooped her up in my arms. She was hot and panting and very upset.  Once I got her in the house, she got some water, and then collapsed on the floor, still panting, but smiling.   I put her in her bed and it was awhile before she calmed down, had something to eat and then fell asleep. 

I wasn’t quite sure if she was smiling because she made it back home or because she went around the block by herself for the first (and last) time..or maybe a little bit of both.

Apparently, once she got into the road behind our house, she just started walking  as she would have normally and took herself around the block, as she and I have done so many times before, going more by smell than by sight or sound.  Still it must have scared her, because it was a long time before she was able to calm down.  I held her on my lap for a good bit and felt her little heart just racing . 

I know she was happy to be back home.