My Dog Was Lost for Three Days. What Came Back Wasn't My Dog.
As a kid, I was raised in a small fishing community on the Eastern side of Canada, surrounded by the gulf of Saint Lawrence and the Boreal Forest. The entirety of the land was close to 4000 foot square with an even smaller number of residents sprawled out over “main street”, the main road running straight through our little town, and farming houses spread widely between areas of trees that were changed to domestic residential homes when agriculture stopped being profitable. In total, our community is surrounded by a vast expanse of ocean, and a seemingly endless barrage of trees that’s spread over 55% of Canada’s entire country. I spent most of my life hunting in those woods, so you can imagine my joy when my parents got me a “hunting dog”.
Sandy was a Shetland Sheepdog, and while they were more fit to be herding and tracking sheep over grassy plains rather than rabbits and deer through dense forest, it didn’t stop me from taking him with me on every excursion I possibly could. Sandy had been by my side for enough hunting trips that he’d grown accustomed to waking up just before breaking daylight, and on a few occasions helped track down small game like squirrels and rabbits through considerably large areas of forest.
Sandy wasn’t my property, and wasn’t treated like he “belonged” to me. Sandy was a member of the family, my best companion, and my truest friend. I think fondly back on all the times he’d sit in the front seat of the truck without being told, ready to go for a walk in whatever part of the forest I took him to. I can honestly say that there will never be a dog that will fill the void Sandy left in my life. I find that dog lovers relate to that sentiment more than others.
It was October 30th, the first day of deer hunting season. I had been talking with my family about taking Sandy, my hunting gear, and some essentials to one of the cabins my Grandfather owned in his heyday off an unmarked road a few hundred miles into the wilderness for a few days. This was met with a lot of protesting, but nothing could stop me from getting in some time looking for wild game in an area that wasn’t already picked clean by illegal hunters earlier on in the month. Everything was packed into the old blue ford, Sandy included, and a few hours of driving later we were setting up camp in one of my Grandfather’s secluded old cabins.