We didn’t think about it much, other than it sounded louder and strange, like a different kind of muffler, and we went on about our evening routines. Around 5-10 minutes later I went to let the dogs in. Lucy came ambling up the steps, in the way a 15-year-old dog does, slowly, but I didn’t see Clyde.
Calling for him, he would normally come around the corner of the house if he wasn’t ready to come back inside — still no Clyde.
Well, that’s odd, I thought.
I kept calling.
A handful of other times, he had discovered he didn’t have his shock collar on and broke the barrier to investigate the sage brush, or explored the hills by our house. I wandered around with a flashlight and Lucy in stride, calling for Clyde. Still no big yellow dog.
Ben said he’d drive the road, because in the handful of times this happened, Clyde would always come to the car.
Still no Clyde.
We both decided to drive the highway — I went to the left, and Ben to the right. Surely Clyde must have just ventured out a little farther. Maybe a rabbit caught his attention.
Still no Clyde.
Anxiety started to set in. This was past familiar territory.
Knowing it would be a restless night, we left the porch light on with hope he would return and be ready to come inside. At 4 a.m., realizing daylight would be the next productive time to search, I remembered the neighbors were calving late this year. Possibly he went up there to “help.” Seeing the neighbor out feeding cows at breaking dawn, I ventured that way. It was the first time I verbalized outside of our home that Clyde was gone and my voice broke asking if he had seen my dog around.
We checked the borrow ditches, sage brush, gullies, the oilfield across from the house, the sand hills behind the house, the canal road and then repeated the process.
No sign of Clyde.
Horseback, hiking to the peaks to get a high vantage point, and trying to find fresh tracks — still nothing. And nothing made sense.
We did all the things we should in a situation such as this: call the Sheriff’s Office, the local police, the police from the next town, the next counties’ sheriff’s departments, veterinarians from various locations.
Finally, I reached out to the many faces on Facebook. Surely someone had seen something. We received encouragement and offers of people to come help us look, but no one had seen him.
Coming home was awful, knowing I wouldn’t get the usual greeting of 120 pounds of bucking lab in front of my car and around to the side, then to the other side, and finally escorting me to the door.
I knew Clyde was a huge part of our day, but didn’t realize how much he was constantly by my side at home until he wasn’t.
Days went on, and we tried to get back to a routine. Coming home one night, after driving the area hoping to see something of him, I received a text while walking in the door. My friend Kari told me to go look on a Facebook group, where someone had posted a Lab found in Bridger, Montana. I didn’t want to get my hopes up and told myself it couldn’t be him as I was setting my things on the counter.
Could it be possible?
We were cautious for the first few minutes, but it was Clyde! The way he was standing at the food dish, his lanky stature, his faded collar, the way his elbows are missing hair, his scar on his side that he’s had since he was two days old. It’s all a part of what makes him unique.
One of my newly-found friends, Barb, had been sending me encouragement to not give up looking, because she had been through a similar experience and found her canine companion. Barb spotted Clyde’s photo on a Facebook page for Bridger.
We called the number and left a message. And we waited for the phone to ring. It seemed like hours, even though it wasn’t. Clyde was found in Fromberg, Montana, and was being fostered by the woman who found him. A Humane Society volunteer would contact her in the morning and pass on our information.
When the call came the next morning, we were on our way to Fromberg. We heard Clyde bark when we knocked on the door. He seemed a little confused at first, but it didn’t take him long to put it together. Lots of bouncing, kisses and some whining followed.
Clyde’s new friend Niki said he had shown up on her doorstep on a Tuesday morning. He went missing from our house on the previous night — meaning someone had taken him and for some reason they no longer had him. We may never know if he had gotten loose from them or if they dumped him off, but what’s important is, Clyde is home.
And we try to remember to think of the many people who helped in getting Clyde home instead of the one who took him. From people taking extra time to look around their neighborhoods, sending encouraging texts throughout the day, and the many cheers I received when picking up the fliers from the businesses that allowed us to hang them, there are a lot of good people in this world.
Over the weekend after Clyde’s return, he pretty much did whatever he wanted and, lucky for him, it was the beginning of one of his favorite things: irrigation season. I couldn’t help but think how fortunate we are, not only to have him home when we didn’t think we would ever see him again, but to live in a place where people still take time to help someone they don’t know.
There is a lot of good in this world.