For D. D.k. Crawford…the story of Chevy’s return home.
Chevy disappeared this past Thursday as I was walking him, I had dropped his leash for a minute to look for my grandmother’s ring, which was refashioned from my grandfather’s platinum and diamond hat pin (he was a dandy back in the day), the ring had gone missing near the creek, probably broke when I scaled the walls of the creek, earlier in the day).
No ring and when I looked up from my search, no Chevy. He had disappeared into the tall grasses around us- we’ve had so much rain he could just poof, disappear. He likes to mosey off to look for fun creatures, I wasn’t too worried as he always reappears, in 10 minutes or an hour, he always comes back.
One time he flushed a deer from this very spot, he chased close to her heels as she zigged and zagged, trying to shake him. She crossed the road and jumped a fence. So did he. I could hear heavy breathing as she plunged into the woods 30 acres away. He came back ten minutes later, heaving and breathing heavy, himself.
But this time, he didn’t come back. I called and called. My son and I searched until 2am. No Chev. That night, I was lying in bed when I heard his bark, it was 3 am. I went outside and called, no Chev. I sat out there for an hour, he never barked again.
Next day, more searching, the hills and woods held no clues. We expanded miles past our home, nothing. We made flyers, we called pounds and vets. Friday at 3 am that bark again, I went outside again, called and fell silent, hoping to hear him again, I was trying to get a read on where the bark was coming from. No more barking.
Saturday morning, I was up early, walking towards where I believed the bark was from, behind Tim’s barn. My neighbor, Margo had heard it, too. No luck. All day Saturday there were false sightings. I drove for miles, handing out flyers. A woman had seen him an hour from here. Someone on the next road had heard barking.
I knew these weren’t him. He is a wanderer, not an escapee, he comes home, an hour tops, and he keeps his circle close to home, even on the trail of a deer, nipping at a deer’s heels, he will circle back in a bit when he is worn out. I was devastated. I was sure, despite the barks, he was gone.
My fear was his leash was caught and he was strangled in a panic to escape. This deep sorrow was actually, I believe, the realization of how much I love this guy, how much he has been my touchstone for the past two years of my journey into the middle of nowhere. How much I need this guy. We aren’t done, I kept thinking, please.
He is my photographer’s assistant. Every meaningful photo I have taken, save the past few days, he has been by my side. A gorgeous close up of his eye was my first test photo for the aluminum prints I have had so much success with. He is a subject in all of my photography shows. He is in every image, in spirit.
Despite being sure he was gone, my feet wouldn’t stop walking the woods and the fields he loves so much. About to give up, I gave it one more walk, an hours walk, no luck. Returning home, behind Tim’s barn, I heard a bark. I stood on a hill and looked at his barn, I texted Connor, come back, I hear him, he’s here, meet me at Tim’s barn. I scoured the barn with my eyes, calling his name. No answer. I got closer, I called and called. Is he in there? It is a behemoth of an old barn, you could lose an elephant in there.
A bark! The burdock in front of me, down the hill towards the barn rustled, shook and I called again, it shook harder, he is there! Chevron! You are ALIIIIIIIIIVE, I yelled, My baby lives!
I fought my way through giant weeds to the burdock, he was their wagging and wriggling and licking my face as I unspooled his mangled leash from the base of the giant weed. Nearby was the gopher hole he’d been trying to reach.
Oh my god, I love this guy.
He dragged me to the creek, joyously flying through weeds for his first full drink of water in 3 days. And, relief.
That is the story.