I lost Finn this morning.
I put him out to get ready at around 7.40. Out the back, as usual, so that he can do his business and get some air. I’d fed him inside this morning, because of the wind and rain, and let him follow me around the house like he does.
But at 7.55 when I went to let him in (holding a towel to dry him down), he wasn’t out back. He wasn’t responding to my call. He wasn’t barking down the side. And the side gate was open – hold on. Open?
I dashed around to the front yard. The front gate. Was open, too. No dog. I ran out into the street. No dog.
Running back inside, I grabbed my coat and keys and cellphone and rang my sister in a panic.
KAT: Hi, me, Finn’s gone.
KAT: She left the side gate open. The dog’s gone. What do I do?
BECKY: Well by the time I get all the kids in the car..
KAT: What do I do what do I do? I’m out on the street and I can’t see him.
BECKY: You’ll have to get in your car and go look.
KAT: Who do I call, can I call someone?
BECKY: I don’t know, I don’t know.
Finn doesn’t know where home is once he’s out of the street. Finn doesn’t come when you call. Finn is stupid in the most adorable way. He covers his nose with his paws when you scold him. He tries to jump up on the couch with you. He loves you more than anything and wants to show you it 24 hours a day. But when he gets out? he goes running and exploring and chewing and destroying.
I leaped in the car and did a slow small perimeter, ringing my boss at the same time. She sounded unamused, yet understanding. I don’t think she understood that he isn’t just a dog. He’s my baby.
After about 10-15 minutes, I did another perimeter. I kept calling Becky and getting an engaged signal. I kept repeating to myself, over and over: “What do I do, what do I do, what do I do?”
BECKY: I’ve called John.
BECKY: I tried Duncan, but John was the only one home. He’s going to look, too.
KAT: Thank you.
I couldn’t help the tears. I was beside myself. It was like I’d lost my child. All I could think of was that there were train tracks one direction, the motorway the other direction, and a hell of a lot of morning traffic in between. I drove and drove, in bigger circles, in small side streets, trying to drive slowly enough to catch him in a driveway or sniffing a tree. Nothing. Nada. Zip.
I came home again. I kept hoping that maybe he would come home. I checked our messages and nothing had been left. I couldn’t remember if there was a phone number on his collar or not. I tried calling my parents, but the mobile was out of range, as they are in Venice right now. I then called the person I always call when I need someone. Tim.
He had lots of ideas. I wasn’t really calling for him to come and help, but just to listen to me, to give me some rational thought. He calmed me down. He said he’d come help later in the day. He reminded me to call the pound, which I had thought of, but just hadn’t pieced it together enough in my mind.
I forced myself to sound normal on the phone with Animal Control. They took all of my details and checked to see if he had been brought in already. They promised to call if he turned up. It was now 8.50. I had to go to work. On my way driving out of the street, John was driving in. We pulled up alongside each other.
KAT: No luck.
KAT: I’ve talked to the pound. They have all of my details, so I’ll have to go and wait.
JOHN: Going to work?
JOHN: I’ll keep looking and let you know if I find anything.
KAT: Thank you. Thank you.
I took one last slow drive through Pinny Ave, around through Burnton St and then on to work. My baby was gone. My companion at home. Who I talk to every moment that I’m home. Mostly it’s just, “Get down, Finn,” “Shut up, Finn,” “Leave it, Finn.” But there’s also a lot of “Hello, baby,” “No, baby,” “Come here, Finny,” and “I love you, my Finny.”
I can moan to him about work and boys and friends and life and feeling the frustration of everything. He won’t respond, but he’ll put his paw on my knee and cock his head, and it just melts me. It makes everything better. I just want to cuddle him and tell him how much he means to me.
And one night when he found me sitting on the kitchen floor in tears, holding the phone after a bad conversation and a bad night, he licked me all over my face and put his head in my lap. He still tries to sit in my lap like he did when he was a baby, but he’s far too big. So he ends up with his front half in my lap and rolls onto his back and wiggles his legs and snuffles at me.
Nothing matters when Finny is with me. He loves me no matter what I do, no matter what I say, no matter what mistakes and bad choices I make.
So at 9.05 when John called my work to say he had found him? And was bringing him home? It felt like my child was okay. Like my best friend was fine. That he was wet and muddy and stupid, but he was home. And all I wanted to do was go home and hug him, then scold him, then hug him some more, and put him in his cage to be warm, but I can’t do that yet. But in an hour or so? I’m going home to see him and check on him and baby him.
Because even though I know I love him to pieces, and I’d hate to lose him, I never thought about how much it would hurt until this morning. I couldn’t think of anything but him running onto the train tracks, chewing something and being hit. Or being hit running across Oxford Tce. Or running into the river. Or, or, or..
I never want to lose him again.