A Madwoman’s Dogged Search

Searching for a pet that looks like this can be a heartwrenching task. Isabel Esaki photo

Searching for a pet that looks like this can be a heartwrenching task. Isabel Esaki photo

It’s almost midnight. I’m pooped and quickly fall into a deep sleep. An hour later, I’m awakened by dogs barking in the neighborhood. Being that I am dog-sitting for my friend, my first thought is, “Oh, no, Chachi escaped from the house and that’s why they’re all riled up.”

Eyes now fully open, I immediately imagine the worst. My friend’s adorable little, fluffy, white pet will be lost forever. She’s going to get run over. She’s going to get mauled by the local bully. I suddenly feel a lump in my throat. Think of the consequences! My friend will hate me forever. Word will get around that I failed, that I’m never to be trusted ever again with anything valuable. I will have to hang my head in shame forever.

I sit up, look at the foot of the bed and then scan the room. I call out to her. Nothing. Not even a tiny bark from this sometimes loud and peppy creature. Not a tip-tapping of tiny feet turning the corner to answer my call. Not a single lump of white anywhere in the moonlit room.

I get out of bed and turn on all the lights as I move from bathroom to bathroom and bedroom to bedroom. Nothing. I run downstairs and search every single room, all the while calling her name. Still nothing.

I methodically check the windows and doors. There’s absolutely no sign of entry or escape. Impossible. I run up and down the stairs again and again. Four times, to be exact, each time frantically scouring every single room. What to do now? I find myself standing in the middle of the foyer, suddenly so alone in this very big, empty house.

I’ll call a guy friend. That’s what I’ll do. He would be perfect, as he had just helped me walk Chachi around the block earlier that evening and had earned her unwavering love and adoration. Maybe she’ll come running to him. But maybe not, and then we’ll both end up feeling scared and hopeless.

As I debate whether or not to bother anyone at 1 a.m., I make my way back upstairs to the bedroom. Then, unexpectedly, a stray thought surfaces: Why didn’t I check under the bed behind the bedskirt? Why, because if Chachi were under there, she would have come out and made herself known to me by now. She’s smart like that.

Nevertheless, I kneel down, lift the bedskirt and look under the left side of the bed. Yup, nothing except storage. In one last, vain attempt, I perfunctorily walk around the bed and lift up the bedskirt on the other side.

Well, surprise, surprise, surprise … there she is, crouched and motionless, her precious wide eyes just staring at me! After a few long seconds, she crawls out and licks my hands. I pick her up and hug her, not ever wanting to let her go again, like a lost child just found.

“That’s where she hides when she’s scared,” my friend later tells me on the phone.

You mean that all that time, when I thought she was the one scaring me, I had been scaring the bejeezus out of her? By her standards, I guess I was still somewhat of a stranger frantically running around the house like a madwoman!

And a madwoman I was. Sometimes, that’s what assuming the worst can do to the best of us.