Today started off as a normal Saturday — Dan & Liam slept in for a while, Benjamin and I got up and played. Once Liam and Dan were up, Dan got dressed, took Bailey for a walk and stopped on the way back to pick up breakfast. He tied Bailey outside of the grocery store next to our house (literally, next door), which is common practice in Vienna (grocery stores being one of the few places dogs aren’t typically allowed) and went in to get some sandwiches and coffee. When he came out, about 5 minutes later, Bailey was gone.
Bailey is our 11 year old Pembroke Welsh Corgi. We’ve had him since he was a little puppy, and we’ve known him since he was about 5 weeks old. He was our “child” before we had children, and he has taken his shifting role from child-substitute to adored family pet very well. He’s a supremely well behaved dog, unless he gets the opportunity to snatch unguarded food . . . and I’ve never quite managed to teach him not to pull on the leash or jump up on people. He adores both of our kids, though, and tolerates being “hugged” (fallen upon), having his hair and ears pulled and occasionally getting stepped on. He plays ball with Benjamin (Benjamin taught him himself) and loves to run laps around the house with the boys. He is a fantastic dog and truly a member of the family. When we made the decision to move to Austria, it never occurred to us not to bring him (which didn’t seem extraordinary to me until I realized that almost no one we know here who has emigrated from elsewhere brought a pet with them). We all love him.
My heart stopped when Dan called and told me. What had happened? Had he run off? It didn’t seem likely — this is a normal part of his routine, and he was literally next door. If he’d run off, why hadn’t he just come home? Why didn’t we find him hanging out in front of our door, or maybe nosing around the courtyard, looking for crumbs of food? Had he run off and maybe gotten hit by a car? Or a train? Had someone taken him? Vienna is an extremely dog friendly city — there are dogs everywhere, and people adore them. I couldn’t imagine that dog-snatching was a common thing here, and it seemed outlandish to imagine that, if it were uncommon, the 5 minutes Dan was in the store could have overlapped with such misfortune. The streets were quiet and less busy than usual this morning, so that made it seem even less likely. Maybe the dog catcher picked him up? That’s possible — we’ve been here 8 months and havn’t registered him yet — but it seemed unlikely that whoever was going to take him wouldn’t have saved themselves the trouble and at least popped their head in to the store — they could just as easily have given Dan the fine right then, if that was their goal.
I got the kids dressed and into the wagon, and we went out to join in the search. We looked all around our building, and then walked around the block. There was no sign, and no one had seen him. We asked shopkeepers, street musicians, other people walking their dogs (Bailey loves other dogs, and probably would have approached any dog he passed). We ran into our neighbors and asked for their help, as well. No sign and no luck. After about 45 minutes, the boys were cold, so I took them in, while Dan stayed out and kept searching. He called the police, who took the matter very seriously (the Viennese love their dogs) and they came right out to take a report. Dan came in to email them a picture, and we called the vet (to get advice) and the animal shelter (who hadn’t seen him, but who took down all of the information).
At this point, we were at a loss. We couldn’t think of anyone else to call, so Dan went out to keep looking. I just kept thinking that he wouldn’t go far and that he must have pulled free from where he was tied and run off. This morning, there were a lot of new noises around the first district — Vienna is gearing up for a huge New Year’s celebration — maybe he heard a noise that spooked him?
I was inside, waiting with the kids, and I was starting to freak out. It had been 2 hours. Surely, we should have found him by now? If the police didn’t have him, and animal control didn’t have him, where could he go? In my 8 months in Vienna, I’ve never seen a stray dog wandering around — what would people do if they saw one? Catch him? Call the police? Call animal control? Take him home? Chase him off? I really had no idea what to expect, and I was really worried.
Then, Dan called. He had found him! A couple walking down the street from our apartment found him and picked up his leash. They were wandering around, looking for his owner, when Dan found them. Yay! Bailey was safe and sound, and apparently, no worse for his adventure. Dan was so grateful and relieved and anxious to update me that he failed to get the people’s names or anything. But, we are really, really grateful. Someone out there, who we don’t know and probably will never see again, saved Bailey and made us all very happy people.
I tried to keep my concern from my boys, but I know they were worried, too. Bailey got lots of hugs, kisses, pats and extra cookies when he and Dan arrived back at home. We are so grateful to the people who found him, and we are so very glad to have him home, safe and sound, where he belongs.