High / Low is a game that John and I play at dinner sometimes, and we were sure to play it each night while his (our) niece was staying with us for two weeks, as part of our Christmas gift - which was sending her to her first summer camp.
The day she arrived, August 1st, I had the highest high and the lowest low that occurred on the same day, in the same incident, that I had had in a long time.
That morning, despite having read a story precisely about this happening, I walked Reno with the retractable leash. I know it's not a good idea, but he likes it a lot since it gives him a little more range than the normal 6' leash, and it gives me a welcome break on the occasional walk - I don't have to pay as much attention wary of tangling since the leash takes care of it for me.
But you see where this is going. In quick succession, on a route we never walk, I walked into a spider web. I gave a little "eep!" and tried to wave the threads from off my face. While doing this, I loosened my grip on the leash, so it was lightly secured in my hand.
However, the "eep" and scuffle of my foot scared Reno. And he darted away (as he does to every crushed leaf, cracked branch, scuffed foot, garbage truck, siren, car door, shouting kid, bouncing basketball… and so on…). Usually, no big deal. But you, of course, recall the loosened grip.
Yup. Down went the leash handle, BANG, on the sidewalk. And then it zipped up toward Reno, retracting as retractable leashes are wont to do.
And off he went.
Like a freaking shot. I've never seen him run so fast. If he even could hear me over the clatter clatter clatter of the leash bouncing behind him, he was out of ear shot in under eight seconds. This was a moment that it would have been really nice to be a runner. But as it was, I reached VO2 max in about sixteen seconds, long after I'd seen the last corner Reno rounded and had no idea where he was headed next. I stopped shouting and started texting John in desperation.
He asked if he should come home, and I said no. He said I should go home, get the car, and drive slowly around the area I last saw him, and call his name.
So I walked, jogged, ran, walked again, huffed and puffed my way home. As I walked, I sent a crazy email to my boss that read, "Not sure when I will be in today; dog ran off and I have to look for him."
I started to sniffle and cry. How could I have done that? How could I have dropped the leash? I kept seeing him, flattened out and running full tilt, tail between his legs, glancing back in terror at the horrible clattering monster that wouldn't stop chasing him. Was that the last time I'd see him? Oh god. I remembered that he had on his citronella collar but not his real collar with his tag. Not that he would let anyone get near him, and sure, he is microchipped, but it feels like a long shot.
With a stitch in my side and a hitch in my step, I rounded the corner onto our lawn and for less than a split second - for less than even a full thought - I couldn't believe the insult of a god damn cat on the front porch.
Not a cat!
A little red dog! A panting, ears folded back, nails-scraped, tail wagging, waiting patiently, leaning against the front door little red dog!
I couldn't believe it. I kissed him on the face, let him inside, and took off one beat-to-hell retractable leash.