Strange how a relatively small change can create a huge hole in one's life.
We took our 2 dogs by car to 150-acre woods and wetlands with well-marked paths for an afternoon hike. Shortly after arriving, I removed the leash off of Winnie, our 4-year-old shelter dog who we adopted 3 years ago, and she almost immediately went straight into the wetland thicket surrounded by 10-foot reeds and quickly disappeared. I went running in after her and after 50 feet into the narrow trail while sinking ankle-deep into the muck. I lost sight of her completely. * FYI- almost every morning of the week, I regularly remove her leash while walking in the woods with her on our daily morning walks. Overall she is a trusted trail companion and not prone to taking off.
I can go into all that we did over the course of the next 40 hours to try and locate Winnie, with multiple groups of people actively out looking for her including sending up a drone at 2 different times to search by air.
Thinking through the many options, with most of them not looking very favorably for a safe return, if she made it home by herself, I had fixed the gate to the backyard to remain open just in case. The short version is that just over 1.5 days later and 2 long nights away, Winnie made it back home at 5:15 am and alerted us of her return by barking softly and waking us up. So happy to have her back at home. The amazing return of a most loved pet.
How did Winnie find her way home? The woods/wetlands are over 2 miles from our house. Scent? Internal magnetic GPS? The memory of roads traveled? Uber?
The very good news is that Winnie came home. The minor downside of this event is that we put up over 130 posters on telephone poles alerting multiple local neighborhoods about a missing dog complete with photos and contact information. Unfortunately, Winnie was not the only pet to go missing, as I came across this poster of Smokey, someone's pet cat who had been missing for a much longer time. Hopefully, this family got their Smokey back safe and sound as well, but by the looks of the poster, Smokey looks pretty haunted.