Nothing panicks a pet owner like fear of your animal running away.

My friends tell me there’s no way the cat or dog will leave me because they “have it too good:” regular meals of high-end food; fresh, filtered water; the ability to go in and out at will; cushy furniture to nap on; and as much attention as they desire.

When it was just kitty and me, I often thought she might leave me. I’d heard cats did that.

“I hope she does,” I thought. “I’ll get a dog.”

And I would have, but honestly, it would have hurt my feelings if Harriet had decided to take up with another. After nearly five years of living together, I would miss her, even though she might be happier in a home with no dog.

Not that Freddie hurts her. He just treats her the way I’ve seen little boys treat their older sisters. He’s an annoyance.

Every day after work, by the time I get to the mailbox, Freddie has heard the car pull up or heard my footsteps or smelled my perfume. He knows I’m home. I hear his relentless squawking, or perhaps it’s an enthusiastic greeting, and his little toenails digging at the inside part of the front door until I open it. That’s the kind of behavior that makes a dog’s master go all misty-eyed. Dog people have dogs because they want somebody to be excited when they come home from work.

But back to the panic.

That sick feeling arose in my stomach one recent day when I didn’t hear his squeals of delight upon my arrival at the mailbox. I still didn’t hear them as I descended the stairs to the front porch. I even called, “Where’s my boy?” but I was greeted with nothing.

Once in the living room, there was no sign of him.

“Oh, no,” I thought. “What if he found a hole in the fence and he escaped and got lost or snatched or ran away?

“Just as bad, if not worse, what if he’s sick, too sick to bark or come running to me.”

I moved down hall calling for Freddie until I reached my bedroom door, which was closed.

“Surely I didn’t close him up in the bedroom for 12 hours,” I thought, turning the knob.

But I had. The poor boy had no water all day. No food. No access to the out of doors.

Was he angry with me?

No. He was overjoyed to see me, but before hugs and kisses, he ran down the hall to his water bowl for a drink.

He’s wasn’t angry. Another reason to love dogs.

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