SUMMARY: He was missing only 14 hours or so, but it seemed like weeks.
[Oh, sorry everyone--I wrote this all up and then went off to eat and sleep without actually posting!]
I got home last night about 10, after a pleasant evening with friends. My renter, who had also just gotten home, said, "What happened to Chip?"
She said that he had crashed through/knocked down the gate into her area, and there was blood on the windowsills.
Me: "?!?!?!*%*#" and a bit of calling Chip, which she had already done.
Her 2nd-floor windows--with the brand-new miniblinds that I installed with much cursing and fuming just 3 months ago--now look like this. (This photo is today; she cleaned up all the blood smeared all over them and the windowsill. You're welcome.) The screen on the less-damaged window was pushed out of the window. Feared that he might have jumped.
Bloody footprints went down the main stairs and across my ivory carpet (not my choice of colors) in the living room...
...and all the way across the windowsill on the living room's picture window...
I felt like I was in a bad murder mystery scene.
All the way through the front hallway into the kitchen, then back down the lower stairs...
to the garage door, which he also customized some...
Now THAT is a dog in a blind panic from fireworks, because the dog door was available. I really assume that he finally went through there and over the very tall gate.
And then--no sign of him. I checked the entire house and yard to be sure.
Then the exact order of things is a little foggy, but this is the general idea.
I walked and drove around the neighborhood calling his name for maybe an hour. Came back home and dealt with things like finding good photos of him for lost dog posting, posted on Craigslist, updated his contact info for his microchip (still had his previous owner's disconnected phone number), emailed his previous owner, posted a notice on NextDoor for all my surrounding neighborhoods, posted on FaceBook for all my friends in and out of the dog world.
Went back out for a while and checked Martial Cottle Park a bit and went farther afield, maybe half a mile or so.
Came home again about midnight, checked email (a few "hope you find him"). And a phone call from a dog agility friend offering to come help search tonight! I said that since fireworks were still going off, he was probably still running and it made more sense to wait until morning.
Then went to work creating a flyer that I could email around, post on facebook, and print up a zillion in the morning to go around the area. Checked email about 1:30 and OMG there was a note from someone on NextDoor who had nearly run into a big white scared/lost looking dog about a mile and a half southwest of me. Sure sounded like him. I raced out there and walked and called and looked for about half an hour.
I haven't posted much about my back/nerve/muscle problems, but it hurt like heck to walk and those parts of me were pretty miserable.
Got back home and discovered emails from two NextDoor neighbors (whom I've never met) who were back out in the area searching for him, too! If I ever doubt human nature, I just have to remember all of this.
One said that they thought he'd gone up the bike path, so I drove out to various ends of the bike path to call his name. (Boost accompanied me on a couple of outings, hoping Chip might smell her and come out.)
Poor Boost and Tika, with me racing in and out and giving them "guard the house goodies" over and over, were a little confused & worried, I think.
Finally I'd done everything I could think to do (looked for other online sites to post lost dog info, read some info on best ways to find lost dogs [which I was already largely familiar with from our escapades with our husky years ago]), scrolled through ALL the found dog photos at the closest shelter--they post them every hour 24/7! More good humans doing that work.
So got into bed around 3:30, managed to drop off around 4.
Tip: The only reason I managed to do it is because I have a tendency to catastrophize (what if he was hit by a car? what if someone steals him? etc.) so I have been practicing for many months to recognize that that's what it is: A form of predicting the future and of course you can't predict the future. So I concentrate on the here and now--I've done what i can for tonight. I need some sleep to be able to function. Chip has my phone numbers and a microchip, so it will be easy for someone to contact me.-- and this allowed me to drift off.But woke up again at 6, only 2 hours later. Intended to just check email and go back to bed, but there were already emails from friends saying, "I'm here in the area and looking" and "what can we do, we're on our way over?" and my sister apparently saw my post when she woke up early and showed up at my door at 7 (lives half an hour away). So I found myself coordinating emails and cell phone calls and groups of people who were communicating with each other and me, largely with group texts which I had no idea how to do on the cell phones, but we made it work.
I searched for nearby vets and other dog-related businesses (pet stores, boarding, etc) and printed a zillion flyers and lists of addresses for people to post things at.
That sounds quite compact, but really was constant activity for me and them, no down moments to even think about food (although I did eventually actually get dressed).
It all culminated at about noon like the classic peak of a movie storyline when 5 people--two searchers in cars, two searchers who'd hauled their segways over here and had been searching, and another person just arriving--all appeared at my front door at the same time and we stood there with my sleepless-fried brain trying to make decisions with arms and fingers all pointing in various directions and flyers flying left and right and then--
My home phone rang. I had not been using my home phone in all of this. But it is the *first* number on the tag on Chip's collar.
I ran and grabbed it. Not a very good connection with a man who didn't speak English all that well. He asked whether I was missing a dog and I said yes! And we had some other conversation that was muddled--he couldn't stay, he had to go to work, etc with me saying, no! I'm coming over NOW, where ARE you?
When we straightened that out, he was at the social services building about 4.5 miles northeast--which would put him about 6 miles from where folks thought he was sighted last night where we were concentrating our search. When he said, "there's something wrong with his foot," I was positive it was really him.
My sister stayed here to man the phones and whatnot, one friend tossed me into her car to drive over there, another friend tossed a bucket and bottle of water and bag of goodies into my lap from her car, and off we went.
Seemed like a 50-mile drive, and then there he was with 2 guys by the side of the road! She screeched to a halt, I ran crying down the sidewalk (oh, did my back and leg hurt? I don't remember that at all, just crying and running). They were smiling as I came. I handed them all the cash I had with me (they hadn't asked for a reward, but seemed like the right thing to do. Wish I'd had more.) and thanked them over and over, took off their leash and put on my friend's leash.
Chip? Oh, hi, Mom. Good to see you, I'm kinda tired. Can we go now? Very calm, very stoic as we examined the huge bloody spot on one rear knee. I think he'll live. Very low-key when we got home and didn't lie down for a while; thinking that he must've had a good night's sleep curled up somewhere.
So--thanks ever so much to all the people who gave up parts of their night's sleep to help search or to talk to me (some of whom I never knew before), who showed up unasked in the wee hours ofa holiday morning to spend it searching for my dog and posting flyers, who let me know that they'd be on their way as soon as their schedule allowed it, who blew off part or all of their Friday agility competition to help, who gave me emotional support, who organized the help while I was brain-fried, who gave my dogs their own treats when he got home, and I can't even think of everything. My heart is filled with your generosity and kindness.
I'm going to list names later if people don't mind being mentioned publicly, but I want to be sure that it's complete, so that'll be after I get some food and sleep.
You are all wonderful. I'm grateful and honored and so much in everyone's debt.