This has nothing to do with writing other than it’s a story so hopefully you won’t mind.
Five days ago a resident of the tiny town I live near was out hiking with his dog. Some people from ‘down below’ showed up to target shoot in an area locals hike. The shooting terrified the dog, who bolted for the woods.
He’s been missing through four nights of freezing temperatures, with some snow still on the ground, and we live in an area with a lot of predators. You can imagine, if you are a dog owner, the sleepless nights these people have had. But being in a small town, everyone got involved. Locals decided it was a good time of year to go hiking. People not only hiked, they bushwhacked off trail. One group thought it was a great time for a full-moon hike in the woods. Many of us were calling out day and night. Where I live is mid-point between where the dog disappeared and town, so I spent a lot of time seeking. Of course signs were posted, animal shelters called, etc. But really, this is the story of community.
A few years ago my son’s dog ended up stranded on ‘the Wall’ which is a sheer granite wall famous for rock climbing. She was stuck on a boulder and my son couldn’t get to her and by the time he got home for help, it was dark and pouring rain. Again, locals jumped to the rescue and at five in the morning rock climbers and friends found her still waiting patiently for rescue on her rock. If you go to the ‘About’ tab you’ll see some photos of the area these dogs were lost in.
Two years ago we were startled one day when hiking to find an injured, terrified dog in the woods. She was too scared to come near us, and locals named her ‘Cedar’ since she was hiding in cedar trees. For a few weeks that hot summer, several of us hiked food and water to the dog twice a day (she was too canny for a live trap) until she grew brave enough to limp out one day and follow me down the logging road. She had been neglected before this adventure, and had a broken leg when she finally was rescued. She ended up in a good home, by the way.
So, back to the first dog. This morning, he found his way out of the woods. Very sorry for himself, very exhausted, beautiful fur dirty. And smelling a bit fishy, which none of us will complain about because it was probably the dead salmon in the creek that helped him survive. There was a happy ending here, with the dog managing to rescue himself. (By the way, I know some of you will be thinking about the dangers of dogs eating dead salmon. But in this case, I believe it was a matter of survival so yes, I’m sure he’ll be watched for parasites from the fish.)
But, what really warms my heart is that I think it’s unusual to find people who pull together like this to help not just animals, but each other. I’ve just mentioned animal stories, but there are many more where people here have jumped in to help others, too.
Sure there are disadvantages to little towns (gossip comes quickly to mind) but in the end, I think this is a community rare and fine.