The dog was doing that thing where she licks her chops over and over and then sits there and looks at me like I just scolded her, even though I didn't. Then the retching started. She was in the middle of the living room and I was hopeless to stop the first round of doggy barf from hitting the carpet. I knew there would be more, though, so I quickly coaxed her toward the front door. When she paused I grabbed her by the collar and, as sweetly as I could, shoved her outside.
The whole thing took maybe 20 seconds - not enough time for me to slip my shoes on and grab the dog's leash, but plenty of time for me to think about the possible consequences of shooing her out into the big bad world without her being attached to anything.
Sure enough, Ladybug finished her little episode, went potty, and then realized she was FREE! and took off running into the wilderness, nose to the ground. That was sometime midday. It's now the middle of the night and she hasn't returned. So here I sit, worried sick, all the outside lights ablaze, and not wanting to think about how I might have to tell the kids in the morning that she hasn't returned. It was difficult enough for them to go to bed without telling her goodnight.
We tried standing outside and calling her name a few times, but it really does no good because she doesn't respond. Obviously. Around 11 p.m. I tried again and was certain I heard her barking in the distance so I got in the truck and rolled down the road a ways with the window down, her leash and treats at the ready in the passenger seat. Nothing.
Ladybug is a Plott Hound, a breed originally used to hunt bears and wild boars. Some are now bred and trained for coon hunting. They also tend to make great family dogs, and they become very attached to their pack of people. We adopted Ladybug from the humane society and we knew we would have to work those hound tendencies with plenty of exercise and opportunities to sniff around. That's not too easy in the middle of a Michigan winter. I have a feeling she's getting her fill of what she's been missing in recent weeks, and perhaps is standing at the base of a tree where she thinks she's treed a coon, barking, and waiting for one of us to come along and tell her she's done a good job. Ideally, though, she'll give up the hunt and decide it's much easier just lying around on the couch and letting her humans feed her without having to work for it. And then she'll pick up the scent of home and be waiting on the front porch in the morning.