Fluff the missing dog returns!
Ol’ Fluff has for 10 years been a loyal, obedient, kindly pet, with no real faults except for his penchant to answer, now and again, to the call of the wild.
Kurt's family's dog Fluff, who disappeared on a hike back in November, has come home again! This is Kurt's column, published in the March/April issue of The Roanoker, Blue Ridge Country's sister magazine.
Three weeks after a dog disappears, it becomes hard not to give up on seeing him again. Maybe the spirit of those who don’t give up helps bring him back.
What, other than Fluff, do you call a poofy, pure-white puppy with a bouncy, inquisitive demeanor? And over the decade or so since son Eric named him – no doubt with some irony – Fluff grew more and more into what he was called: You’d have to look hard to find a gentler, more obedient, more laid-back, more ready-to-please dog than ol’ Samoyed-mix Fluffy-Dawg.
Except for this one trait: Put Fluff in the company of another dog outside somewhere where the scents are strong and the land is open and inviting, and he’ll take that other dog and bolt. Over the years he’s disappeared for a day or two many times and in several states, always with another dog. But he’s always come back, and always in the same manner – walking real slow with head down, tail tucked and eyes carried low as they glance up for okay to approach and as if to solicit forgiveness.
Or at least that was the pattern until one day when Fluff , visiting on Bent Mountain with German shepherd Sugar, took off into the wilds and mountainsides there near where Roanoke, Floyd and Montgomery counties meet. He was far from home. On a Saturday in hunting season. Running, no doubt as he always does, with white tail held high as he sprints and then bounds, not at all unlike a white-tail deer.
Fluff ’s co-owners – Eric and Erica – intially figured he’d be back the way he always has been, but worry grew as two days passed, and then increased when Sugar presented herself at a house for food. Fluff , with traits of shyness and self-sufficiency, did not.
With Erica at the helm, posters got posted, emails got sent, county offices and vets and stores got contacted. People set out in cars and on foot. A modern country network – through phones and computers and word-of-mouth – was set up from the home of the people where Fluff had been visiting.
Some of us got pessimistic after a week or so. And much more so after two. Oddly, as week two gave way to week three, Eric felt a little more positive than he had. To me, the only hope seemed to be that the dog was making his way home across two or three counties to Fincastle and his masters. I worried about hunters and about what one would-be helper had told Eric: “Dog sounds like a keeper.”
Then, out of nowhere as of course such things occur, came the call. Someone had seen a white dog standing in an icy stream eating at a deer carcass. This was 20 cold winter days after Fluff had taken off.
The dog, it was reported, did not look well. And on his back was a rotting wound the size of a dinner plate.
Calls to family and friends to deliver the news were made and received with halting words and tears. You don’t know, exactly, how such a thing will aff ect you until it does.
Animal Control took Fluff to Hanging Rock Animal Hospital, where the wound – estimated by the vet to have occurred “about three weeks ago” – was cleaned, and the dog’s shaved hide was stretched to receive stitches that ran at Frankenstein-looking angles all around and across his shoulders.
The vet speculated that the wound was from an animal – perhaps a bear. Had Fluff sought refuge in some tucked-away spot and interrupted slumber?
Wound cleaned, stitches in, food eaten, sleep taken, Fluff went home the very next day. More calls, more tears of joy, more understanding of why it is we love a dog.
Especially a fluffy, white, gentle, genuine good dawg. Who will, of course, run again the next chance he gets.