Almost an Unhappy New Year

My wife and I met at a New Year’s party, so New Year’s Eve has a special meaning to us. We’ve rarely been able to get out on New Year’s Eve, though, because finding a reliable baby sitter for that night has proved impossible. But this year was going to be different: our niece Michelle was coming to stay, and she kindly offered to watch the kids. I bought tickets to a local show, and arranged a ride for the night – we were set for a good time.

But the night didn’t turn out as I’d planned.

Shortly before our ride arrived, we let our dog Gypsy into the back yard to take care of business. Gypsy was a stray who lived off the land for a couple of years before we took her in, and apparently she’d been shot at a few times – so she’s terrified of loud noises. Well, our neighbors decided to celebrate the new year a few hours early by shooting off fireworks, which freaked out Gypsy so much that she bent one of the bars to our fence then squeezed through the opening and ran off into the night. Which meant that instead of partying like teenagers, we wandered all over looking for our lost dog.

At first I wasn’t worried – I figured that since she used to be a stray, she’d find her way home when she calmed down. But the fireworks continued through the night, and we feared that she was miles away, completely lost and scared. We spent several hours looking for her, but at 2am gave up the search and hoped she’d come back once the sun came out.

We awoke a few hours later – and Gypsy hadn’t come home. At this point, my wife thought she was gone for good, and she was heartbroken about it. Gypsy is one of those dogs with a soul – she has a big heart, and despite living in the wild, she’s a very gentle creature. When our kids were babies, Gypsy would sleep outside their room, and she’d come get us whenever they cried. She made herself part of our family, and my wife loved her for it. So as bad as I felt for Gypsy, I felt worse for my wife.

At about 6:30am, my wife went around the neighborhood calling for Gypsy (which I’m sure endeared her with everyone who partied too hard the night before), and we phoned all the local animal shelters. Our best friends Kevin and Shima (thanks!) helped us plaster the area with “Lost Dog” flyers, and we continued searching all over the place. But as the day wore on, we were less hopeful about finding her, and had to trust that a kind stranger had found her and would see one of our flyers.

Shima and Michelle went around the neightborhood that afternoon handing out flyers, while I sat down with my wife and helped her put together a doll house for our daughter, hoping that the activity would get her mind off her concern for Gypsy. Then the phone rang: it was Shima and Michelle, saying that they’d found Gypsy!

She was wet and tired, and her side hurt where she’d squeezed through the fence, but otherwise she was fine. We brought her home, gave her the best meal of her life – and blogger that I am, I took her picture with Shima and Michelle so I could add it to the end of this post.

Now, of course, I’m torn between hugging Gypsy and strangling her. After I get over the relief of having her back, I’m going to sit her down and teach her how to baby sit our kids, so my wife and I can make up for our lost New Year’s celebration.

Gypsy and her rescuers

14 thoughts on “Almost an Unhappy New Year

  1. Having four dogs myself, I understand your anguish. We only had thre but a neighbor brought us a stray that she thought was ours. She was not but was a dead ringer for one of ours that we had to keep her. Our fence also allows for escaping but I have filled in the gaps. However are dogs are so small that the tiniest of space they can squeeze thru. Glad you got her back. Sachmo is the one of ours that is absolutly frightened by thunder/firework his webpage is on the link.

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  2. I’m sorry I just had to laugh at this one. A babysitter for New Year’s Eve? You were trying something that has never been performed in the whole history of married couples with small children.

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  3. I have to agree with Bill. There are just some things that, for unknown reasons, will never work out. Having a New Years on your own when you have children is one of those impossible things! I know as I got with my girlfriend on Christmas Eve and going out is impossible now we have an, almost, 3 years old daughter!
    Glad you got Gypsy back :)
    Also I do love reading your blog as it is just so different. One day it is about piracy the next about your dog running away. Looking back on your blog in a few years is going to be incredible for both yourself and all of us!

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  4. I’m so happy you got her back! I would appreciate if people would concentrate their fireworks to the moments after midnight. So this is over after 15 Minutes or so. Here in Switzerland, where I live, people are “enjoying” fireworks the whole week before and a few days after New Year. Without thinking, what this means for animals. Among them Dogs and Cats, man’s closest friends…

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  5. When you have a dog, you should know that the doumbest thing you could do is to let it out on new years eve! What you should do, is place it alone in the most quiet room in the house – womewhere it uaually feels safe – with some blankets, and lock the door. You should not comfort or be mad at the dog. If you must be in the same room as the dog, you should show with your body language that you’re calm and in control.

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  6. Fireworks only a problem on new years eve, they have just made a law here in the UK to stop people letting off fireworks at all hours, all year, it was getting so bad (well in places).

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  7. Glad to hear your story had a happy ending… I was gritting my teeth until the very end. Having had adopted a stray dog myself and having her run away several times I know the feeling — it is almost like losing a child. Poor girl, what a terrible night she must have had. Well all’s well that ends well. Oh, and your friend Shima is hot!

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  8. It’s terrible how animals get so disturbed by fireworks and commotion and NYE and at other events. I’m glad this time things worked at better for you, Nick. We’ve lost animals in the past and it’s not a good thing at all. Thankfully yours was a happy ending, and as you know, you can go out any night of the week anyway. Rock on 2005!

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  9. glad this had a happy ending. i think its safe to assume that in the future when outside conditions can be particulary stressfull such as new years or the fourth of july someone will stay with gypsy when she needs to take care of business.

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