Writers attempt to write to entertain readers, give them a chuckle, pass along some information they can use, make them feel better about themselves.

I apologize up front for this column. If you read it, you will find it to be sad, very sad. I know you won’t feel it as strongly as I do, but anyone who has ever had a dog — a lovable and best friend to the end — that shared a portion of their life with them will understand the pain I’ve been going through these past seven days.

I wrote about Belle earlier this year. That was when she was lost in Silom Cemetery. I had let her out of the truck to explore as I sat and read the newspaper.

When she didn’t return to the truck and my search did not find her, I was convinced someone driving through the cemetery had thought she was a stray and picked her up.

But later she was discovered in the freshly-dug grave of Bill Vansickle’s beloved mother. She had gotten too close to the edge and fell in. She was not injured.

Really gone now

This time though she’s gone forever. And I can’t give her a proper burial. I can’t find her body.

She was 16 years old. She had lost her hearing. She suffered from arthritis in her hips and hind legs. She had dementia. At times she became disorientated. Sometimes when I opened the front door for her to go out to use the bathroom, she would go to the hinge side.

But she was still very much my little friend. She loved to accompany me in the truck or car. She could no longer stand and put her head out the window. She lay on the seat and watched the tops of the power poles and the trees go by.

The bed we have shared all these years is 2 1/2-feet high. When she awoke sometime after I would climb out, she would yelp to get down. Either Bonnie or I would be there to help her down.

And I recall when she was young how we played our game in the hallway, she peeking around the corner at one end and me making threatening gestures on the other. She would roar down the hall at full speed, run between my legs, make a flying leap up onto the bed, and wait for me to lose her in the covers.

How she left me

Here’s what happened:

Saturday night after midnight I carried her onto the front porch and sat her down gently. She would do her business in the side yard, then come back up the ramp to the porch and wait to be let back into the house.

I was busy helping Bonnie into bed, making sure her oxygen mask was on and working. Maybe a half hour went by before I returned to the front door.

No Belle waited there.

I went immediately out with a flashlight but could find her nowhere. At 3 a.m. I went to bed, worrying about her — a little house dog — spending the night out there in freezing weather.

I was up at sunup conducting a thorough search. I live on First Street on Sand Hill, two miles east of South Shore. My search carried me all the way down to Third Street. I must have walked a mile on this bad back of mine. I looked under and behind every outbuilding, every back porch, under canoes and kayaks – anyplace that she might have crawled under to keep warm.

I have searched twice since then. Some of the good people who live in the area have helped. A lot of people are looking for her.

This is the most pain I’ve felt since Bonnie and I lost our two sons, Kendall in a car wreck four days after Christmas 2015 and Kelly to a heart attack four days before Christmas 2016.

The hurt has gone from my heart up to my mind, and from my heart down to my stomach.

It’s highly unlikely anyone would have picked her up in a vehicle. Those three streets are all dead-end streets. There would be no through traffic.

And so my little buddy is gone. I’ve faced up to it. If I outlived her, I had planned for this time to come with me holding her in my arms.

One thought I’ve had is that coyotes, who sometimes patrol subdivisions looking for small pets to attack and make a meal of, got Belle.  

A highly disturbing thought.

But where is she?

Reach G. SAM PIATT at or (606) 932-3619.

Trending Video