Early last spring Butler, the over-bred, half-feral, half crazy, (but 100% love), miniature Australian Shepherd went roaming and didn’t come home to sleep in Rob’s bed as he always did. Rob, my son, was in Utah on business. Jenny, Rob’s fiancée, called for Butler and looked for him frantically.
The next day Richard and I joined the search for him. We drove up and down Whitmore Road, checking the ditches on each side. Jenny made flyers and put them on all of the mailboxes on Whitmore Road and on the bulletin board at the General Store.
I called the near-by veterinarians’ offices and told them if someone brought him in wounded to call us and to do whatever they needed to keep him alive. Our vet’s receptionist said, “Is that the one that no one can get near?”
Yes, that would be Butler.
He was skittish, to say the least.
I called the wonderful, loving neighbors, who came to our sides when we lost Leigh, my daughter-in-law. They, like Richard and I, couldn’t stand the idea of Rob having to deal with another loss and promised to do what they could do to find the little guy.
Butler was suspicious of almost all humans. He didn’t allow anyone to pet him except the two people who raised him. After he lost his “mommy,” he slowly began to let a few people get closer to him. He came to me, across three pastures, when he heard the gunshots of hunters and skeet shooters. He would cower in my arms and vibrate in fear. Recently when he sensed that he was destined for a bath, he ran to me for salvation.
When Jenny came to live with him he easily trusted her. And when Whitney came to work with Rob, she found herself doing much of her work on the computer with Butler in her lap. Perhaps he was trying all of the females in his world to see if any of us could replace Leigh.
As the days passed we began to give up hope.
We almost hoped he was dead so he wouldn’t be out there in the freezing snow all lost and afraid and hungry and cold. We knew he would never let anyone catch him. We knew he would not go to anyone else’s home.
It snowed again.
We would not be seeing him any more. Something got him. We saw a mountain lion one Sunday evening. It was down by the creek. They say there are a lot of those around here. Butler thought he was big. He chased anything that ran. No, we would not see him again.
Late one warm spring afternoon, Jenny and her son Jordan were in the garden preparing it for planting. They heard a bark from far away. They knew it was Butler. They looked at the hill across the creek and called Butler’s name. Another bark! Jenny thought she saw the white fur on his throat and chest.
“Jordan! Go get the binoculars!” Jenny said, as she kept her eyes on the tiny spot of white.
She looked through the binoculars and saw Butler. They ran to the bridge that crosses Cow Creek, and started up the mountain. Jenny sent Jordan back to call us. She had the foresight to grab a flash light, and she reasoned that if she became lost in the woods across the creek, she would shine the light to let us know where she was.
She had on sandals and cropped pants, but she knew she was not coming back without Butler. She climbed through the brush even though it was slashing her bare calves. At one point a limb stuck in her eye, leaving a red gash on her eyeball. She kept climbing. The girl is a hero.
By the time Richard and I found her, she and Jordan were coming down Whitmore Road on the ATV, and she had Butler in her arms. We wept at the sight.
He was a skeleton covered with fur and ticks, but he was alive. He had been gone for fifteen days.
We called our veterinarian, Dr. Prestley, and he said he’d wait for us at the clinic, where Butler spent the night getting nourished, pampered, and checked for any permanent abnormalities. Rob got a flight home immediately.
Butler, the Bionic Dog, is as good as new now, but he doesn’t wander the way he did before.
Heck, he doesn’t let Rob out of his sight.