Yesterday morning we lost China. Large, fluffy, not easy to miss.
One minute she was there, nudging my hand off my computer mouse so I would give her a stroke, the next minute she was nowhere to be seen. Graham takes both dogs out for a walk before breakfast, but when he called for them to join him at the front door, only Maeve turned up. Where was China? Probably in the garden - no sign. Well she must be in the house, we both searched every room (not that many to look through) including under the bed in the computer room (a favourite hidey hole) behind our bed, and all round the garden again.
Graham wondered if when he had briefly opened the door as he shouted for them, if China had slipped out and was taking herself for a walk. I told him to take Maeve and do their normal walk - if China was out there, she would probably be doing that.
I normally have a bath at this point, but I couldn't settle. I had China carried off by burglars, having a heart attack and dying quietly somewhere, or maybe had got behind something in the garden and was trapped by falling logs or quicksand or fallen through a wormhole into an alternate dimension.
I went to have a thorough look in the garden, there was nowhere else she could be.
As I wandered back from a close examination round the back of Holda's Hut (the nettles and ivy round the back are quite dense) I suddenly spotted China across the garden, beyond the tub with the sage in it - rather near the back garden gate into Grandma's garden. (I may not have mentioned this, but our and Grandma's houses are back to back and the gardens adjoin, so we have a gate through from one to the other)
Now I know that gate is a bit rickety, well more than a bit, but I never thought that either dog would go through the gate without being invited - we take them to visit Grandma when I deliver her newspaper and they get a biscuit for being there.
However there was the evidence: guilty looking dog; fluff on the gate; gate pushed juuuust wide enough open for a surprisingly skinny fluffy creature to squeeze through. From a distance you couldn't tell it was open.
When Graham got back from an anxious walk, he was delighted to see China (still looking sheepish) but as amazed as me that she was making her own forays into Grandma's garden.
The thing is: China is a food motivated dog. No, I mean REALLY.
I have mentioned Grandma's cat before and how its every whim is catered for (except the one to escape Grandma's gimlet gaze for a couple of hours). Well through the night Grandma leaves the cat three saucers of different flavoured food, in case it fancies a snack during the night, and come the morning, Grandma throws the left over kittie chunks into the garden for the birds.
Now Grandma is a person of habit, so she always stands at her front door and aims the chunks into the shrubbery to the left of the door. A couple of weeks ago Graham and I were removing a large tree from her garden and the dogs, naturally, came to see what was going on - and China found Treasure! The left over kittie chunks!
It would appear that China has been checking up on the latest delivery of kittie chunks at every opportunity.
So after breakfast our first job of the day was securing the gate into Grandma's garden, so that we had no more disappearances of dog (especially as I spotted China showing Maeve 'This is how you do it.'). This is easier said than done as both the fence and fence posts appear to be held up merely by the ivy covering them. So Graham put in new fence supports and worked on the gate, managing to get the catch to fasten. And there we were, happy and secure again.
No vanishing dog.
Both dogs taken for walk this morning.
Then just before breakfast I spotted China squeeeeezing back through the gate from Grandma's garden. She had found that she could push the bottom of the gate open even while the catch was fastened!
Graham will be securing the gate this morning .... again.