Thursday, January 23, 2014

The Bear Grills of the Jack Russell World - A Story of Survival

See this cute, peaceful, quiet, little Jack Russell Puppy? He's a bit of a legend around here.
We've had so many litters of puppies here over the years, that I couldn't begin to guess at just how many babies we have raised. As they grow, we find them new homes with their forever humans, and much joy is spread in the world. In all the years, and through all those puppies, we've never had any 'go missing'. But, the last litter:
all cute little pumpkins, were another story. They took it in turns to disappear, and no amount of walking and calling, and looking in sheds, and under buildings and in holes in the paddock could uncover them. Ten thousand acres of backyard makes it kind of tricky to know where to look. 
Each, in turn, went missing. Legend here, was the first. A full scale search found no trace. We suspected a wedge tail eagle might have swooped down and helped himself to a free meal (a thoroughly disturbing prospect). Two days and many fruitless hours of searching later, his sister disappeared. Back to full scale search mode. And guess what? I found him, hanging out beside a cattle grid, not far from the house. After two nights in the big bad world all on his own, he was very happy to see me, and very hungry. His sister remained elusive, making her reappearance the next morning, unscathed and keeping tight lipped about where she'd been. This just kept on happening! One would disappear, only to show up hours later; a day or two later another would do a vanishing act. We had no idea where they were sneaking off to, and began to suspect the existence of some puppy destination akin to Batman's  Bat Cave.
 The time came to send two of them off to their new homes (which involved a 3 drive to catch a plane at 8 am - you can figure out what time we had to get out of bed for that!) All present and accounted for at 10am the day before departure. At 10.30am - two missing. 2pm a big thunder storm rolls through, dropping a good shower of rain. Full scale search launched. 4pm a second storm rolls in. Full scale search resumes. Then, it gets dark. No sign of missing two. Give up and go to bed, wondering how to tell a little family in Adelaide that they wont be getting a puppy tomorrow, because he's gone missing in action. 4am, Pa gets himself up for another search (he has a touch of tracker in him, but the lack of useful daylight, and our growing conviction that the Puppy Bat Cave was a real thing, was something of a barrier to any useful progress.) We left home, then turned around and raced back after a call to tell us one pup had appeared. Wrong pup. Took him anyway. Adelaide family happy to be getting a puppy, even if it's not the one they chose. Feeling broken hearted about the missing one - but he did survive 2 nights on his own a couple of weeks earlier....maybe he'll show up? As one day slid into another and then another, after 4 days there was a heavy storm, and we resigned ourselves to thinking he probably was no longer for this world, and gave up looking.
Then, 8 nights - yes, I said eight nights after he vanished, he reappeared! Trotting along beside his Mama like he'd never been away - except of course he was very skinny looking, and my word, he was famished!
We will never know where he was hanging out, how he survived (it was pretty hot) or how and why he made his way back. He has now gone to live with his new family - leaving us with lots of questions and not a single answer.

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