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By Susan Stanton, Guest Columnist
He was gone in an instant. I turned to close the car door and when I looked back he wasn't there.
After the three hour ride from our coastal northeast Florida home to the apartment I am renting, I was tired and my body was stiff, but I moved faster than I ever imagined I could. My dog was missing and it was getting dark.
I ran across the street to where I had last seen him. My pulse raced as I called his name. When I knew he wasn't nearby anymore, I jumped in the car and followed the route we usually take on our walks. Maybe he'd head in a familiar direction. F Street to 3rd, past the Far Away Inn up G Street to 4th. I circled again and again, expanding the area, franti- cally calling his name. I asked a pedestrian if he had seen a little dog. Then I stopped a car.
How could this happen, I kept asking aloud. What was I going to do? I've loved this island from the first 15 minutes I spent here in April, but I didn't know whom to turn to in a case like this. What was the non-emergency police number? I didn't even know where to look it up. To make matters worse, the information on his tag was from our other place. Who would help me? If someone did find him how would they find met.
I drove back to the apartment, hoping he had returned. He's a smart little guy; maybe he had tired of his adventure or gotten spooked and come back. As I got out of the car to look around on foot, I saw a light color SUV-like vehicle stopped at the corner. When it headed in my direction I began waving my arms frantically. The car stopped and I said to the passenger, “Have you seen a little...”
I never finished the sentence because the woman was handing me Gizmo through the window. She said he had walked right up to her vehicle and seemed to want to get in. The SUV did look similar to mine, especially in the dark. She told me that a man who saw Gizmo approach them told her that he had heard a woman calling “Gizzie” near F Street. She checked Gizmo's tag, she headed in my direction.
I was so stunned to see Gizzie emerging from the win- dow and so grateful to be able to hold him that I never asked her name. She told me the story and when she mentioned where it all happened, I gasped - Dock Street. I had been looking for him in the wrong direction. I hardly ever take him that way. I don't want him to become familiar with that area because of the traffic. Maybe he saw a kitty he wanted to follow or a smell he couldn't resist. Maybe he chased a squirrel up a tree where he believes all squirrels belong.
I'll never know, but what I do know is the kindhearted but nameless woman who went out of her way to reunite a lost dog and his frantic mistress occupies a special place in my heart, as does this remarkable island that Gizzie and I hope someday to call home.