Perhaps English setters Helen and Ingrid were doing a practice run for the annual St. George River Race or cosplaying a scene from Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, but last weekend, their owner, Marci Molloy was in a panic, fearing the worst, when the dogs had gotten loose.
“I lost my engagement ring on Saturday and so, on Sunday, I was tearing the house apart, completely distracted when I let my dogs out,” said Molloy. “When I realized how late it was and they hadn’t come back in, I went to look for them. I called and called, but they were gone.”
Because the snow was so deep, the dogs had managed to slip the electronic fence that kept them contained. So, Molloy went looking for them, following their tracks for awhile, until it became impossible to tell which direction they’d gone.
The dogs are a mother-daughter pair. Ingrid is four years old; Helen is two. They’ve apparently pulled this Thelma and Louise stunt before.
“We figured they’d come back that night,” said Molloy. “I was nervous, but they had taken off before, so Monday morning when the big storm was coming in, I was thinking somebody was going to find these dogs. They’re very friendly; they’ll go to anyone. Their collars have their names and phone numbers. I called everyone I could think of, the Humane Society, the shelters. I put it on Facebook.”
By Tuesday morning, Molloy hadn’t slept all night. “They’re pampered animals,” she said. “I didn’t think they could survive the frigid temperatures and the snow. I was convinced they were dead. I was crying so much, I asked my fiancé to give me a Valium.”
She managed to make it into work, and then to dentist appointment, when she got a text on her cell phone from her ex-husband.
The text said: “I found your dogs...really.”
When she called her ex-husband, Alvin Chase Jr., she asked where he found them and he said, “You’re not going to believe this, but they were standing on an ice floe in the middle of the St. George River between Warren and Thomaston.”
Chase had been driving when he came over the crest of the hill by the Calvary Baptist Church and spotted them. “He always looks at the river because he’s a hunter,” said Molloy, who was in a unique position to know that.
Molloy added, “He saw them floating underneath the railroad trestle. He told me, ‘I wasn’t close enough to see them up close, but I somehow knew they were your dogs.’ ”
Chase pulled in the parking lot and stood up on a snow bank. “He could only remember one of the dog’s names, so he began calling one of them,” she said. Noted earlier for their friendliness to go to anyone, even an ex-husband, the dogs began to jump from ice floe to ice floe at his beckoning. They managed to get over to the river bank. Even though the deep snow drifts made it very difficult for the dogs to get over to him, Chase was able to tamp down enough snow to reach the dogs finally and get them into his truck.
Chase returned the dogs to the house Molloy shared with her fiancé, Ryan Jones, who was the only one home. The reunion probably wasn’t awkward at all.
“I was beside myself when I came home and Alvin had dropped them off,” she said. “I was so happy.” The dogs are now happy to be back home. Ingrid lost a little weight and Helen suffered some rawness on her belly. “Other than that, they’re perfectly fine, all curled up with each other,” she said. “They’re inseparable.”
The only down note to this story? She still hasn’t found her engagement ring.
Kay Stephens can be reached at email@example.com