Emily started to get a bit annoyed.
She must be hoarding a dead squirrel inthe yard. I don’t have time for this, Emily moaned. Damn dog.
She pushed the full dinner bowls to thevery back of the counter and pointed at Proper and said, “Leave it,” in hermost businesslike voice, and went out to the yard again.
“Little Hope, dinner! Dinner! Come on,Hope. Hope?”
Just a splinter of worry crept around thecorner of her consciousness. Where was her dog? Emily was sure she was out in the yard. Hope was always the first one in when the food dishes came out, not the last. Maybe Emerson had accidentallyclosed her in the bedroom. Relieved at that notion, she ran upstairs.
“Little Hope did you get locked in here?”
But as soon as she opened the door sheknew that she was talking to an empty room. Now the first feeling of real fearclosed around Emily’s throat. Where the hell was her dog?
She threw every door in the house open,searching in every closet, all four bathrooms, and she even went down in thebasement, perfectly aware of the futility of it all, but compelled to look.
She looked out in the yard again,pleading, “Please, Little Hope! Whereare you?”
She didn’trealize that she had started to cry but her face was soaked.
Her husbandheard the panic in her voice. He stepped out of his study.
“Did you look in the bedroom? Maybe she got shutin the bedroom by mistake.”
“I’ve lookedin the bedroom, in the basement, in the yard a hundred times, Emerson. I tell you she’snot there. Little Hope!” she yelled to the house's walls.
“I’ll go look again.”
This was nuts.Where was her little dog? She couldn't have gotten out. Finally convinced that Hope wasn't in the house or the yard, she threw leads on the confusedpack of whippets, who were in collective wonderment as to what the heck happenedto the whole dinner process. Their woman seemed to have totally lost her mind,and now, instead of giving them their bowls of food, she had decided to go for awalk. The whippets were fine with that, but the lab thought a little remindingwas in order.
“Woof,” hesaid, eyes smiling counterward, “you forgot our supper.”
“Driver, come on. Get overhere now. We’ve got to find Hope.”
The old lab,for the umpteenth million time, forgave his woman and wagged slowly over.
As they headedout to the back fields, the dogs felt their woman’s alarm, and noticed thatshe was searching everywhere with her useless human eyes. They heard her call the little one’sname over and over.
Proper felt lost. His Emily’s fright and his own lonelinesswere making him feel too heavy, as though he were walking through a deeplyplowed field. He was losing his footing.
They walkedthe entire two mile loop in the big back fields: down the tractor trail alongthe cornfield, left along the woods to the wheat field, through the woods toemerge at the soybean field, and up the hill that brought them back to thecornfield and home.
Emily called for her Little Hope, at times through tears,other times with an edge of anger, but calling, calling, calling.
The woodsfilled with the her voice.
“Hope. Little Hope! Come here Hope. Where areyou, Hope? Here Hope. Oh, Little Hope please come here.”
And finally,surrounded by her dogs and her very worst fears, Emily sat on a flat field rock andheard a sound bleed from her soul. A long, loud keening sound.
She knew shehad lost her dog, and the rest of the pack howled her sadness to the sky.
That's it for today.
Hug your hounds