Wherefore Willow Art Thou

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I’m not a huge fan of puns but sometimes they come far too easily. Rejected titles for this post include Willow the Whisp, Good Willow Hunting, and Free Willow. I’ll slap my own wrist.

Today we expect buckets of rain and (as usual) high winds. Saturday, however, was sunny and clear. Luckily. Distancing and isolation for the past few weeks means that we see very few people and speak to even fewer. I understand that those with children are stressed trying to keep them occupied. This weekend was different and it’s all because of a young dog.

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Willow is a black german shepherd a little bit older than Fish. A couple of days ago, on a walk in the park with her owner, she got spooked. She ran off and didn’t return in spite of repeated calls to do so. After a couple of hours of searching, her owner asked for help.

I’ve talked about the Park before and I showed you photos recently after Fish and his friends went for a stroll out there. This isn’t an enormous Island (39.6 sq km, 15.3 sq miles), but the Park covers a lot of it (11 sq km, 4.25 sq miles). Apart from a few narrow roads and trails, beaches, and a couple of small fields, it is entirely dense hilly forest. Dark forest. You try to find a black dog in a dark, dense forest.

It’s a huge area and it felt like it kept getting bigger. The whole time we searched we knew that the dog was likely enjoying herself. The brat.

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Half the Island tried. We tried for hours and hours. We found her paw prints going up and down the side of roads. We found deer tracks and rabbits (oh, she was having a wonderful time). We saw two coyotes heading into the woods (it was a while before anybody told her owner that). But we didn’t find her.

I’m really not exaggerating about the number of people who were looking. There were convoys of trucks and cars circling the roads, there were bicycles and people on foot, there were coordinated teams walking the trails from each end and down each detour. Text messages were sent updating search areas and rare sightings.

Note that all of this took place without any crowds gathering or violations of distancing rules.

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I’ve also told you about the need to have “something to do” on this rock. This was the first “something” in a long time and people were not going to miss the opportunity. Parents brought their young kids – it was different and kept them occupied. Trucks stopped frequently (and stayed 10 feet apart which wasn’t easy on narrow roads) so that searchers could say Hi! to friends and catch-up. It was a very distant social event in a very un-social world.

She took off about noon on Saturday. Most of us ran out of energy by about 9:00 pm. Her owner and his family lasted longer.

At 5:00 am Sunday morning the hardiest were back out there again and they got her. At approximately 7:30 am, 19.5 hours after her adventure started, Willow was back on a leash. I’ve suggested a GPS tracker in her collar. We might have to search again but at least we’ll know where to look. 🙂

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