Stay-at-home pooch takes mysterious vacation

Stay-at-home pooch takes mysterious vacation By Bob Karolevitz Shawn, our once well-coated golden retreiver, has a new crew cut.

I think she looks awful, but my reaction must be a lot like Phyllis's was years ago when I came home from my assignment at the Seattle Port of Embarkation with a shorn noggin. It was the first time she'd ever seen me without a full head of hair.

In my case the barbering came about because I'd been recalled into the Army, and my civilian coiffure was not practical when I had to wear a military cap all the time. For Shawn it was something else again.

She'd always been a stay-at-home dog, never straying far away when we weren't home. During our trip to Nova Scotia, she remained dutifully at her post, guarding our house for three weeks and being fed each evening by daughter Jan and son-in-law Pat.

Then we had to make a two-day jaunt to Pierre, and that's when Shawn decided she had a right to travel, too.

When we drove into the yard on our return, there were Jan, Pat and grandson Sam, all with worried looks on their faces. "Shawn's gone," Jan blurted out, not knowing how Phyllis would take the news.

"We've searched everywhere for her," she added, "and we can't find her."

It was trauma time at the farm. Even before we had unpacked, we were walking the fencelines and through literally miles of underbrush.

"Come, Shawn!" we shouted every 15 feet or so until hoarseness set in. She didn't answer. We found not hide nor hair of her.

Phyllis held up surprisingly well, but tears began to fall when we had to give up the search because of darkness. For three days Phyllis called the neighbors and combed the road ditches. Daughter Jill also joined the hunt.

At last it became quite obvious that our dog was gone for good. Maybe somebody had taken her. Possibly she'd been shot or had died some unknown way. Phyllis quit crying, and I think there was even talk about another puppy.

And that's when the call came!

It was Jan. "We've found Shawn," she reported happily. "She's in our garage, and she stinks to high heaven."

In her wanderings, the dog must have found a mucky slough, a hog wallow or something worse. Whatever it was, she had waded in it and maybe she'd even laid down in the stuff. Apparently she finally tired of her odyssey, though, and made her way back to the Garritys' orchard.

"Don't come after her in the good car," Jan warned. "She's too much of a mess for that. Bring the old pickup."

Shawn's homecoming was odoriferous, to say the least. Fortunately she was not the worse for wear from her escapade, and Phyllis greeted her warmly. As for myself, I stayed upwind of her.

Her aromatic presence finally even got to my critter-lovin' wife, and Shawn got her first date with a pet groomer. After a good shampoo, she was shorn like a de-wooled sheep.

And that's how she got her G.I. haircut. As I said earlier, she sure looks awful, but she smells a whole lot better.

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