I woke up this morning slowly, around 8:30. Rolled over, kissed Patrick. Got up, got my laptop, and started to read blogs. Around 9:20, as Patrick was just starting to drift into the realm of wakefulness, he got a call.
Harley, his boxer, had gotten loose. She'd jumped the back fence of the house. Sheryl, one of the women living with his mom, needed help finding her.
So we rolled out of bed, got dressed quickly and left the house. We'd both misjudged the warmth of the early October morning sun, and were quite chilly after walking around the neighborhood for ten minutes. Initially, we circled the block of houses that followed the crick that runs behind the houses in the area. After that, we said "screw it" and changed our foot gear for something a little more sturdy (I was wearing danskos at the time and put on my sneakers instead) and made the trek out back.
Patrick's grandmother's house has a back gate that opens onto about a foot-long gentle slope, which then abruptly cuts away into a much steeper, muddier hill that slides you down to a muddy, suburban creek littered with foliage, shopping carts, tires, and fallen trees. Oh, and sticker bushes. Lots of them. At first, we'd planned to split up, one taking each direction of the creek. I got about four yards out when I called back to him and said, "Love, I have dog prints heading this way." For, there in the mud, were very deep dog foot prints.
Let me take a moment to describe this area, though, so you can get the full idea of what we went through.
The hill leading down to the creek is covered in an inch of leaves at least, and below them is last year's leaves, quietly mulching away into mud. The mud sits on the surface of an intricate tracery of roots from thorn bushes and trees, below which is thick green clay. After two days of rain, it's quite slippery. The trick is to walk sideways and lean towards the slope of the hill (which still means you are almost vertical) so that you won't slip quite so badly. Down at the bottom of the hill is a thin little creek, averaging about four feet wide, and less than a foot deep in most places. It is full of muddy islands; the kind of mud that almost isn't solid any more. Also, it is heavily pebbled, in some places even bridged with large chunks of concrete. There are a few drain outlets here, where the water runs deeper and faster than the muddy parts. Also, because of the rain and fall weather, the water is very cold. It is an area prone to mosquitoes and ticks.
So, anyway, we followed the prints, leaping here and there from mudbar to mudbar (since they weren't really sand), trying to make sure that Harley hadn't climbed up the slope into someone's back yard at some point. We were on either side of the creek most of the time, though a lack of solid ground sometimes meant we had to attempt to scale the sides to higher ground and then slide back down again, while trying to avoid being stabbed by thorns. I was doing just that when the root I was holding myself up with gave way and a slid about two feet down into the water. After that, I gave up trying to stay dry.
Tracking Harley wasn't hard. She's a big dog, and a healthy weight, so her prints were easy to find. We encountered other tracks, too: deer, raccoons, and perhaps even possums. Other dog prints, as well, though smaller than Harley's.
And then, we found her.
And then, she bolted.
We'd been in the creek already for about fifteen minutes, and she ran further down the creek. After a few yards, it became apparent that we wouldn't be able to go any further unless we got up on the banks because there were several downed trees that had fallen across our path. So, up we went, following Harley. Finally, she paused, and Patrick called out to her. We were up an almost vertical mud cliff, so when she came out, she began to follow the crick back. And so, down we slid (my feet were soaked for, like, the fifth time doing that) and we fought our way back the way we had come.
We finally trudged in the back door at 10:10, soaked, muddy, and quite disgruntled.
Patrick works 12-9 today, and I work 5-10. I don't imagine our days going quite as well as we'd hoped.