25 November 2011

Callie's big adventure

It's hard to believe that Callie the Collie is going to be five years old in a few months. We still think of her as a young puppy — at least I do. Maybe I see her that way because she's so completely "bonded" to us. She never lets us out of her sight, for example, when we are out for a walk, even though we never put her on a leash.

Until now. A couple of afternoons ago Callie asserted her independence. Or she let her curiosity about another dog get the better of her. She just disappeared at the end of a walk she was taking with Walt. I was doing something in the kitchen when I heard Walt call me from downstairs: "Hey! Is Callie in the house?" I yelled down that I hadn't seen the dog.

Callie in the back yard — she has chased a bird up a tree!

Callie had evidently disappeared after Walt and the dog walked back up the hill through the woods from down below in the river valley, where there are 10 or 15 houses. She came up the hill, turned into the neighbors' yard across the street from ours, and then just vanished. Walt went in one direction on the road, and I went the other way, both of us calling Callie at the top of our lungs. There was no sign of her.

Another neighbor — the one who says she has had so much trouble with Bertie the Black Cat — had just arrived at home and was getting out of her car. She came out on the road to say bonjour. I told her we were looking for Callie, who had vanished. « Je viens de voir votre chien en bas, sur la route, » the neighbor said — she had just seen Callie at the bottom of the hill, on the road. All the way down at the bottom.

Callie still hopes she'll find a walnut or two under the
little nut tree out by the road. She loves walnuts
and knows how to crack them open.

She said that when she drove by, Callie lay down at the side of the road to let the car pass. Yep, that was Callie all right. She always does that when she see or hears a car coming close. The neighbor said she had thought about trying to get Callie to jump into her car so she could drive her home. She doesn't know how much Callie hates the car.

I told the neighbor Walt had seen a black dog running loose down the hill a few minutes earlier, so I supposed Callie must have gone back down there to check him out. Or maybe he had followed Callie and Walt up the hill and then turned to run back downhill with Callie behind him. It was a mystery.

Then I asked the neighbor how things were going in the local feline community. Was Bertie behaving? « Ça va, » she said, « mais c'est toujours la bagarre. » Things have settled down, but the cats still don't get along and they fight at times.

The neighbor said that, as it happened, one of her cats had disappeared two days earlier. She was going to walk down the road calling him. I saw Walt down that way, at the top of the hill, and I yelled to him, telling him what the neighbor had said about Callie being down the hill along the road. He started trudging down that way.

Usually, Callie comes running like this
when one of us calls her.

The neighbor asked about the group of young zoo workers who were renting the first house on the right as you come up the hill into the hamlet. Have they moved out? Yes, I told her, they're gone. But they had several cats, didn't they? Yes, one day Walt saw one of the tenants putting cats in cages into the back of his car, getting ready to drive away.

The neighbor asked if we knew the landlord's name, and whether we had seen him. I told her I had been seeing the man nearly every afternoon at the house, cleaning the place up and getting the house ready for new tenants, I supposed. But his name... « Je me demande si Shana — the cat's name, I figured, and I'm guessing at the spelling — n'est pas enfermé à l'intérieur de cette maison. » Maybe her cat was shut up in the house. I told her our neighbor the mayor knew the landlord, but she said the mayor is in Paris right now for an annual conference of mayors from all around the country.

Here's Callie's perspective on the vineyard in late November.

I asked her if the missing cat was the pure white one. No, it's the one that's beige, she said. We arrived at the gate in front of the rental house, which the neighbor tried to open. It was locked. Night was falling, but through the gloom I saw Walt trudging back up the hill, with Callie out in front of him. He was yelling for her to stay close, to not run away again. When I saw her, I called her to me and she came running. She didn't turn off into the woods or otherwise try to run away again. It was almost dark at that point.

When Walt got up the hill, we talked about Shana's disappearance. Walt asked if Shana (Chat-Na?) was the pure white cat, and the neighbor said simply "Oui." That was confusing. And that's when Bertie emerged from the woods. Walt scooped him up to carry him home too. Callie noticed, and she came over to try to jump up and nip at Bertie's tail and feet. The neighbor laughed.

It was getting dark and gloomy out there.

So we never found the cat, and I don't know if the neighbor has seen him since. Cats wander off like that for days at a time, and most often they eventually return home. Bertie has done that. He can take care of himself.

Dogs are so different. Callie had disappeared for five minutes and we were in a panic. She has no "street smarts" — at least in our view, she's helpless without us. She doesn't know how to hunt. I guess she would have come back home of her own volition after a few minutes, but who knows?


  1. How worrying for you. I know very well that feeling of rising panic if you can't find them.

    The biggest problem is not that they won't find their way home but that they will be hit by a car on the road. You are lucky that Callie just lies down, Lulu has no road sense at all. She hasn't wandered off by herself yet, not too far anyway, but I'm sure it's only a matter of time - all our other poodles did, more than once.
    Glad you got her back safe and sound.

  2. It's a year this month since I had Munson go missing, so know exactly that feeling of where? what? when?

    Munson's like Bondi in having no road sense: he'd wander out to say hello to a truck...

    I was in a very dark place before he was returned many hours later. I'm still annoyed with the local vet clinic who had been asked if they could identify him and who denied knowing him. He'd only been there a few weeks before, is possibly the only dog of his breed in the area and they have his microchip on record which they could have matched up further to his name on his collar. He would have been returned 7 hours earlier if they had a brain.

  3. We once found a cat locked in to an empty house - he was frantically trying to climb on the window sash so he could be seen. He'd been missing for about three days so presumably he'd been there all that time. The landlord wasn't answering his phone, the police and the RSPCA weren't interested. We told his owner when he came home from work, and he rescued him, somehow. If we hadn't known who his owner was, I wonder would we have had the nerve to break into the place?

  4. I'm glad your neighbor could tell you where Callie was.

  5. Maybe Callie was finally "testing her wings".

  6. i felt sick when i read this....like Callie .... Casey has no street smarts....in fact we say he is street stupid.....but we protect him and love him and would be in a panic if he ran off. Glad she is home where she belongs.

    Victoria, Bellingham, WA


What's on your mind? Qu'avez-vous à me dire ?