I will never forget the day our sweet, beloved Labrador Charlie went missing. It was totally my fault. It was me who let him out. Me, who got distracted by the million things moms get distracted with, me who just plain forgot about him.
With the chaos of my kids and their friends coming and going on a Saturday, it was hours before anyone realized he was gone. And then I saw it. Charlie’s collar, lying on the table, which I had foolishly taken off of him the night before.
I panicked almost immediately. We live in an area surrounded by dense woods, where packs of coyotes roam regularly. Not only did he have an hours long head start, if someone did find him, they would have no idea how to contact us.
My husband, kids, and myself took off in three different directions, by foot and by car. We combed the roads and trails, calling for him, to no avail.
I texted a neighbor to be on the lookout for him, and within minutes, she had posted Charlie’s photo on a local Facebook page, alerting people he was missing.
I called my friend, who before I could even finish my sentence, said “We’re on our way.” She, her husband, and three kids descended upon our neighborhood in a matter of minutes.
Driving along a road, I saw two boys, classmates of my daughter, heading down their driveway on bicycles. I was about to ask if they had seen a roaming dog, when they saw me and said, “We just heard. We’re going out to look for Charlie.”
Word spread quickly, and at one point, I ended up on the same road as my husband. I saw a young guy on a motorcycle pull up, speak with my husband, and speed off.
“Who was that?” I asked.
“No idea,” he said. “But he’s looking for Charlie.”
I felt my eyes well up with tears. A few tears of worry perhaps, but mostly, at that moment, they were tears of pure gratitude.
I was overwhelmed with emotion that we are lucky enough to live in a community where people truly care, where neighbors help neighbors, where people are generous with the most valuable gift there is – the gift of their time.
And thanks to these wonderful people, Charlie was found before dark that day, tired from his big adventure, but none the worse for wear. How I wished that dogs could talk, I’m sure he’d love to tell us all about his brief life on the run.
A kind woman had seen my overly friendly boy wandering around her yard and seeing he had no collar, brought him into her home to keep him safe until she found where he belonged.
As I thanked everyone later that night, one of my neighbors said something that really struck a chord with me: “We will always rally for you.”
A simple, yet powerful statement. We should all have someone that will rally for us in a time of need. Sometimes, we are lucky enough to have many.
When we moved to this little island in the rural Pacific Northwest from suburban California a few years ago, we didn’t know a single soul. We left behind close family and longtime friends. I honestly didn’t know if I could ever call a place with no family around, “home”.
I remember fighting back tears in the school office the day I registered my kids, because I literally didn’t know anyone I could put down under “Emergency Contact”. I had never felt so far from home.
But I realized something the day Charlie went missing.
Home can be many things…it can be where you grew up, and it can be where your family is.
And sometimes, home is simply the place where people have your back.
The place where people will rally for you. ❤️❤️❤️