I bolted outside like a crazed madwoman, calling his name. Henry's always come back, I reasoned. He's just just on his way back from the woods. But this time, there was nothing. No thrashing around. No galloping paws. Just complete silence (well, except for my hollering.)
So what's a near-hysterical girl to do when faced with a pet crisis? Jump on an ATV and go careering around our property, screeching his name. There was some method to my madness as I thought I'd either, a.) find him and entice him to drop the turkey-chasing and run after me or b.) scare off all the local wildlife so any nearby hunters wouldn't have anything to aim at (I was terrified they'd mistakenly shoot Henry.)
But he's also our constant companion, a gentle clown with our kids, mother hen to our kittens, amusement to our donkeys and from his nighttime post in the hallway, he keeps an eye on all of us as we sleep .
Thankfully, I didn't have to contemplate life without a dog for long. As Lucas pulled up in the pick-up truck (he had a little more sense than I did and decided to go search for him along the road) he pointed to our lane way. There was Henry: coated in mud up to his belly wearing a look on his face that was part intoxication, part confusion. He was obviously tired, panting heavily and limping slightly. But he'd come home.
"Stupid dog," I said between sobs, taking his head in my hands and squeezing.
After a quick cleansing swim in the pond (something of an oxymoron, I know) and some treats in our front hall, he seemed no worse for wear.
I, however, learned a few valuable lessons. Firstly, maybe it's time to look into that invisible fencing. Secondly, given a choice between Milk Bones and wild turkeys, the Milk Bones don't stand a chance.
And lastly, and perhaps most importantly, maybe Henry needs an on-farm job after all. Given the choice between watching his own flock of sheep* or chasing turkeys, I'm hoping the woollies will win every time.
* Disclaimer: Yes I know and totally respect/understand that herding sheep is an art and that dogs must be trained for years before becoming skillful herders. I also know that I can't expect an untrained Aussie to be a particularly effective sheep herder. Henry doesn't know that though.