This was going to be about fun times on New Year’s Eve. Laughs to end 2011. But laughter is hard to find around here at present.
Coco has gone missing. Our beloved dog. The tiny ball of fluff responsible for so much family fun.
She made the trip with us to the Gold Coast this Christmas. Part of the celebration. Even got a new collar and lead from Santa. With sparkles. That she never got to wear.
One minute she was part of the fun around the brother-in-law’s pool on Boxing Day afternoon. The next, gone. We think she wriggled under a fence.
Coco has form for escaping. Loves the wind in her fluffy ears, skinny legs hurtling down the road. Always to come home, with a wicked grin.
But not this time. She was in a strange place. Different road. And as much as we adore her, it’s fair to say she is easily confused.
We started searching straight away. The extended family. House by house. Street by street. Into the darkness. Nothing.
Everyone expected her to sprint back in that night, tongue hanging sideways. But she didn’t. There were tears.
We went looking again the next morning. Started the process of contacting the city pound, local vets, and the RSPCA.
I thought about the last thing I’d said to her. She’d been left to her own devices the night before, on the big verandah. This resulted in a barking onslaught at sunrise, aimed at next door’s chooks.
Not what we wanted after a late night. I let her know that, angrily, as I locked her away. It might be the last thing she’ll hear from me. Why does that always happen?
I tried to explain to the girls that it would take some time. That someone nearby was probably looking after her, until the pound re-opened. Possibly trying to convince myself.
That afternoon, we put up flyers all over the neighbourhood. Laminated, with coloured photos. The Teenager demanded only the best for her dog.
The girls were much younger when Coco came into our lives. She made an impact from Day One.
The Treasurer was going away on a business trip. The Teenager and Daughter Two were naturally upset. It was my job to cheer them up.
After leaving the airport, we ate junk food, and bought stuff, and ended up in a pet shop.
The girls explained that they’d been looking at a puppy the day before. The Treasurer had told them they should show it to me while she was away. We could decide later if we wanted it.
This was the cutest mutt I’d seen. Papillon x Maltese. White, with black patches, and tan markings on her face. Normally, I wouldn’t look twice at a dog that small. But there was something special about this one.
It was an on-the-spot call that Dads are famous for. Why wait? What better way to take their minds off my limited cooking ability, than for the girls to have a new puppy at home!
With the boot full of food, bowls, leads and other expensive puppy accessories, we headed home with a new family member. Smiles replaced tears.
We set up the rumpus room for her, cordoned off with cardboard boxes. She jumped, and played, and did a wee every ten minutes. Something that never changed.
As she grew, Coco played a different role with each of us. She kept the Treasurer company during the day in her office. For the girls, it was cuddling on the lounge, after a hard day of barking at next door’s cat.
My treat was the same each night. When I sat down after work, she would jump on my lap, to have her neck scratched. Always for a few minutes. Then she would take off, looking for dinner scraps, and a mat to pee on.
It’s been five days now. We’re refusing to accept that she’s not coming back.
There is the chance, of course, that someone has picked her up, and spotted what we love about her. Maybe, they’ve decided to keep her.
That would make us all terribly sad. But if we can’t have her, we hope she ends up in a loving home. If that’s the case, here are some important tips.
She’s a fussy eater. Good luck trying to find the right dog food. I never could. Leftover BBQ meat is a favourite.
She’ll enter every part of your life. Nothing is off-limits. You’ll try to section the house off, and it won’t work.
She’ll bark at birds, and cats, and salesmen, and the guinea pig. Until you tell her to stop. Then she’ll give you that “just letting them know who the boss is” look.
She’ll try to sleep on the end of the bed. And will look away when you come into the room, in the hope that you might somehow miss her.
Most of all, she will love you, every minute of every day. Unconditional love. What we’re all looking for, but rarely find. We had it, from a sometimes smelly, always affectionate, four-legged friend.
We’ll keep checking the pound. She’s micro chipped, so that’s in our favour. And her foam bed in the laundry will stay right where it is.
Please come home Coco. It’s not the same without you. The smiles you gave us that first day, are gone. Tears have returned.
We’ll let you sleep on the bed. Bark at sunrise. Wee on any mat you want.
If anyone knows where she might be, please let us know. We want our family back together.