Emily started to get a bit annoyed.
She must be hoarding a dead squirrel in the yard. I don’t have time for this, Emily moaned. Damn dog.
She pushed the full dinner bowls to the very back of the counter and pointed at Proper and said, “Leave it,” in her most businesslike voice, and went out to the yard again.
“Little Hope, dinner! Dinner! Come on, Hope. Hope?”
Just a splinter of worry crept around the corner of her consciousness. Where was her dog? Emily was sure she was out in the yard. Hope was always the first one in when the food dishes came out, not the last. Maybe Emerson had accidentally closed her in the bedroom. Relieved at that notion, she ran upstairs.
“Little Hope did you get locked in here?”
But as soon as she opened the door she knew that she was talking to an empty room. Now the first feeling of real fear closed around Emily’s throat. Where the hell was her dog?
She threw every door in the house open, searching in every closet, all four bathrooms, and she even went down in the basement, perfectly aware of the futility of it all, but compelled to look.
She looked out in the yard again, pleading, “Please, Little Hope! Where are you?”
She didn’t realize that she had started to cry but her face was soaked.
Her husband heard the panic in her voice. He stepped out of his study.
“Did you look in the bedroom? Maybe she got shut in the bedroom by mistake.”
“I’ve looked in the bedroom, in the basement, in the yard a hundred times, Emerson. I tell you she’s not there. Little Hope!” she yelled to the house's walls.
“I’ll go look again.”
This was nuts. Where was her little dog? She couldn't have gotten out. Finally convinced that Hope wasn't in the house or the yard, she threw leads on the confused pack of whippets, who were in collective wonderment as to what the heck happened to the whole dinner process. Their woman seemed to have totally lost her mind, and now, instead of giving them their bowls of food, she had decided to go for a walk. The whippets were fine with that, but the lab thought a little reminding was in order.
“Woof,” he said, eyes smiling counterward, “you forgot our supper.”
“Driver, come on. Get over here now. We’ve got to find Hope.”
The old lab, for the umpteenth million time, forgave his woman and wagged slowly over.
As they headed out to the back fields, the dogs felt their woman’s alarm, and noticed that she was searching everywhere with her useless human eyes. They heard her call the little one’s name over and over.
Proper felt lost. His Emily’s fright and his own loneliness were making him feel too heavy, as though he were walking through a deeply plowed field. He was losing his footing.
They walked the entire two mile loop in the big back fields: down the tractor trail along the cornfield, left along the woods to the wheat field, through the woods to emerge at the soybean field, and up the hill that brought them back to the cornfield and home.
Emily called for her Little Hope, at times through tears, other times with an edge of anger, but calling, calling, calling.
The woods filled with the her voice.
“Hope. Little Hope! Come here Hope. Where are you, Hope? Here Hope. Oh, Little Hope please come here.”
And finally, surrounded by her dogs and her very worst fears, Emily sat on a flat field rock and heard a sound bleed from her soul. A long, loud keening sound.
She knew she had lost her dog, and the rest of the pack howled her sadness to the sky.
That's it for today.
Hug your hounds