It all started simply enough. Dad had let me out but, instead of putting Max on the run as he usually did, Dad came outside with Max and let him run loose so they could play “fetch the tennis ball”. Unfortunately for Dad, Max wasn’t interested in playing ball – he was interested in roaming the woods, chasing squirrels and anything else he could find. So, when he took off across the neighbor’s yard, I took off behind him. And that’s when this story began.
Hi, my name’s Hunter and I’m a rescue dog. I’m part hound and part retriever, and while I should weigh about 50 lbs., I’m closer to 85lbs. I live with my younger brother Max (who’s mostly shepherd) and my sister Dakota (who’s a mix of greyhound and yellow lab – I think she’s beautiful). We moved to the mountains a few years ago, me, Dakota, my brother Blue (a treeing walker hound) and Dad (he’s fat like me). Dad rescued all of us from an organization that rescues dogs from Virginia, where they have what are called “kill shelters”. What that means is when they find stray or unwanted dogs, they keep them for a week, then put them to sleep unless someone comes to get them. Lucky for us we were saved from the “kill shelters” and taken up North to be adopted. And that’s how we found Dad (well, actually, he found us). First he adopted me, then Dakota and a couple of years later, Blue.
We were only in our new home for a year when my brother Blue got sick and died. We were all heartbroken, none more so than Dad. Things were pretty grim for a while. Then one day Dad took us for a ride to “meet someone”. That someone turned out to be my brother Max, who was at a local shelter and needed a home. Well, we all checked each other out and Max came to live with us. And boy, am I glad he did. He’s the nicest guy – he plays with Dakota (I’ve never been much into toys) and keeps to his own bowl. And the energy he has – wow. I hurt my legs when I was young and have a hard time walking, but not Max – he runs around inside and out.
Well, before you knew it we were a family again and, although we missed Blue a lot, we knew things would be OK. Max was real skinny when he came to live with us (he’d been living on the road for a while), but Dad fattened him up in no time. Since Max was a few years old when he came to live with us, Dad wasn’t sure if he could let him run free like me, or if he’s need to be tethered to a run like Dakota (who would take off for hours if she was free). But, because Max was so well behaved on a leash and came every time Dad called him (in the house), Dad figured he’s try letting him run free in the yard. Oops, not a good move, as Max rocketed through the neighbor’s yard heading full steam toward the woods, with me trying to keep up and Dad yelling for us both to come back.
And so began our adventure. Max headed up back toward the deep woods at a pretty good clip, with me doing all I could to catch up. I’m a bit older than Max, so between my age and my legs I wasn’t going to last long at this rate. Luckily Max stopped to sniff around and I caught up to him. From there we headed into the woods, sniffing and watching, as Dad’s voice became fainter. Before we knew it we were deep into the woods, with all the scents we could handle. Max told me about the time he ran into a strange critter with spikes all over him. When Max tried to sniff him he poked him in the face with some of the spikes, so Max tried to bite him – all he got was a mouth full of spikes. So he warned me not to mess with any critters with spikes.
And so we went – sniffing here and there, running a little, sniffing some more. Max found some squirrels and started running after them. Of course they just ran up the trees. I could have told him that. At our old house the squirrels used to tease Dakota relentlessly. That’s how I knew you couldn’t catch a squirrel, because if anyone could catch one it’d be Dakota. Pretty much the same with rabbits too, although I watched her almost catch one when she got loose one time.
After a while we wandered out of the woods and found ourselves at a road – a busy road. I knew this was not good, because Dad always said to stay away from roads. Not only that, I could tell that we were pretty far away from home since I couldn’t hear Dad and nothing smelled familiar. Since I run free I get to wander the neighborhood and explore the area, but this part of town was new to me. And I noticed that the sun, which was above us when we left was now way over on the side, almost below the trees. So, doing what we did all day, I followed Max as he sniffed and headed toward what I hoped was home, running along the side of the road. Well, Max was running. I had all I could do just to stand up. My legs were tired and sore and I needed to rest. So, as Max headed off on his own, I decided to lay down along the side of the road to rest before trying to get home.
I was only there a little while when a car stopped and somebody got out. I’m kind of scared of people I don’t know because my first owner was mean to me, not loving like Dad. So, when they came toward me I got up and moved away. But they wouldn’t leave me alone. Boy, all I wanted to do was rest for a little bit and go home but these people wouldn’t let me. Then another car stopped and more people got out. Then one guy tried to trick me by waving hot dogs around. Now, I have to tell you, I LOVE food – especially hot dogs. But I was too scared and kept moving away. Before I knew it I was down the side of the road and into a swamp. They kept coming and I kept moving away. And it was getting dark.
Then, just when I thought I’d be lost forever, Dad showed up. It turns out that he’d been out looking for me and Max all day, when he finally stopped and asked a car on the side of the road if they’d seen a dog that looked like me. It seems Max had made it home a few hours earlier and Dad figured that I was following behind, just a little slower because of my legs. But when I didn’t show up he went back out looking again and that’s when he found me. He had to walk through the swamp to a field on the other side to get to me. Because I’m a heavy dog (I’m working on being a “lean, mean puppy machine”) Dad couldn’t carry me out. And I couldn’t take more than a few steps at a time before my legs wobbled. So that’s how we got to the truck – me taking a couple of steps, then rest for a minute, then a couple of more, then rest for a minute. We made it to the truck just as it got dark, with Dad thanking the people that were there for helping to find me. I thought Dad would be real mad that I didn’t listen to him, but he just seemed real glad that he found me (almost as glad as I was – things aren’t scary when Dad’s around).
When I got home I went right for the water dish and drank and drank and drank. I don’t think I’d ever been this thirsty. And even though it was supper time I didn’t have the energy to eat – it could wait until morning. All I wanted to do was sleep. And as I started to nod off I could hear Dad explaining to Max that you “never leave a man behind” and how he should have stayed with me. But I didn’t care. I was home, safe and sound, with my family, after the biggest adventure I’d ever been on.