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Day of the Dogs

Shepherd is my dog. He maketh me lie down in green pastures and wait...and wait...and wait.

This was almost the last photo I ever had of Preston.

So, we went back out to the Metolius yesterday to look for the elusive morel. I really am NOT good at finding the correct places to look for these things. I decided to go to an entirely new area. Lo and behold! There some were, ended up with a dozen.

At one point, I noticed Ursus looking off into the distance with a face that said: "I recognize you!" I assumed he had seen Paul, who had gotten separated from us. Off he ran, with Preston behind. I continued to look around, but I didn't find anything, so I tried to text Paul that I was going back to the car. Well, we were in the middle of a cell dead zone so it didn't actually reach him until about 4:30.

On my way back to the car, Ursus came barrelling up behind me without Preston. As I got within view of the car I saw Paul was already there. Ursus ran up to him. I yelled and asked about Preston and Paul said "He's right here." I was so relieved. But when I got up to the car, I realized that he had meant that Ursus was there. Preston was nowhere to be found. We called. We called. We called. I called until my throat was sore. Still no Preston. We waited. and waited. and waited. Finally, Paul suggested that he drive around the area and see if Preston had been picked up or if he was sauntering down a road somewhere (which he would be very prone to do). So, I sat and waited as Paul left. I thought "This is it. There is no way that Preston was going to come back." There are cougars, bears, rattlesnakes, cars, people with guns (we even heard a shot at one point). A lone 12 year old black dog didn't stand a chance. It was 3:30. Preston had last been seen about 12:30.

Paul came back and said he had driven down all sorts of side roads and talked to people he passed and there was no sign of Preston. I felt more and more depressed and like an idiot for not keeping him leashed up. But, Paul pointed out, he was doing exactly what he loves most. Paul was ready to give up, I think, but he left decisions up to me. He suggested we drive around the area together (Paul has a really bad sense of direction). I had heard that hunters who lose their dogs lay a piece of clothing out for the dog as a sign that the owner would "come back." Paul didn't believe this, I could tell. But what the hell. I laid my most inner shirt down behind a log that blocked the way to keep people off the side road that wasn't. Paul suggested I put down some treats. I did.

So, we drove around the area once again. Looking everywhere. Asking everyone we saw if they had seen any sign of him. Nothing. So, we came back to the spot where I had left the shirt for Preston. Paul said "Why don't you go and see if the kibble has been eaten," I started opening my door and Paul looked in my rear-view mirror "By the way, there's your fucking dog." I turned around and, sure enough, there he was. He had come out from bushes on the side of the road where we were parked. No remorse on his face at all. I opened the back hatch and he jumped in, drank some water, and laid down. It was 4:30. I can't believe he actually found his way back from wherever he had been. We had never been to this area before. How did he know?

Afterward, we checked out a few more places but now it was getting really dark and stormy so we ended up heading home.

On the way home, we noticed that Ursus was drooling excessively, for him at any rate. Plus he looked tired. I remembered that, at the last stop of the day, Ursus had actually sat down, which is very unlike him. We kept a close eye on him all the way home and after. I gave him his kibble and he tried to eat it, but spit it out. I was concerned but this one was Paul's decision to make. He googled "excessive drooling" and found many things that it could possibly be. Most of them were relatively harmless. So, he thought he'd wait and see. All I could think of was that he had gotten into poison or had eaten a poisonous plant and how ironic that would be if we got Preston back but lost Ursus. Finally, Paul decided he needed to take him to the vet. So we got back in the car and drove to the emergency vet. Forty-five minutes and $100 later, it turned out that he had been bitten and scratched in the mouth by what was most likely a chipmunk. A chipmunk! All that because Urs had caught the wrong chipmunk. It was well worth the $100 to find that nothing too wrong had happened. Plus, we can joke about how Ursus had been beaten up by a chipmunk.

I have suggested that, maybe, mushroom hunting isn't really worth it.

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