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The mystery of the missing dog collar

Published: Monday, Sept. 30, 2013 11:20 a.m. CDT

Buddy loves his walks.  He visits neighborhood dogs Shay, Chloe, Rosie, and Teddy, making sure he leaves his scent just on the other side of their fence where they can’t get at it. 

He chases cicadas and toads and, if he should spot a rabbit or squirrel, tugs at his leash, stands on his back legs, and yips in a high-pitched squeal.  Buddy is not a barker. 

Too cute with his black and white markings, and curled tail, he is a treat to be with.  He actually smiles on these two-a-day walks.  The neighbors get a kick out of Buddy, bending down to give him a pat and a behind-the-ear scratch.  Rolling on his back for a tummy rub, Buddy is everybody’s buddy.

When we got back to the house, as I took off Buddy’s leash, I noticed his collar was missing. “What the …? Was he not wearing his collar when I put his leash on? Did he slip out of his collar while on our walk, and I didn’t notice?” 

I keep his collar pretty loose so if he gets hung up, he can slip out of it. “Buddy, where is your pretty, purple collar?” He cocked his head and looked at me with his eyes sparkling. If Buddy could only talk. The purple collar was Holly’s collar, and I’m sentimentally attached to it.

Buddy has slipped out of his collar before, but it was readily found in the house. Mary and I searched the house over. No collar. Buddy seemed content to run around collarless, naked as a jay bird.

We retraced our steps through the neighborhood. We asked the neighbors, “Have you seen a purple collar?” No one had.

I have a 10-by-10-foot pen outside of a window, with steps on each side, so that Buddy (and previously, Holly) can go in and out. Holly is buried in the pen, and I have her grave covered with bricks and stones.

Of course, Buddy is quite curious about the grave, and tries to dig around the stones. “That must be where the collar is!”

The revelation was like a shot in the dark. I searched the pen thoroughly, praying to St. Anthony, the Saint of lost objects. Still, no collar.

This went on for four days. I was about to call the vet to get a duplicate rabies tag made. The law requires all dogs to wear this tag. The collar I could replace. It wouldn’t be as pretty as Holly’s purple collar, but any port in a storm.

I heard Mary holler, “The collar!” She had just let Buddy in from his trip to the pen. I rushed to the window. There it was, all covered with dirt, the purple barely distinguishable. 

I had searched that pen quite thoroughly. Apparently, Ole Buddy Boy had buried his collar (he’s quite the digger), and then dug it back up. He looked at us, with his tongue lolling out, real pleased with himself. St. Anthony always comes through.

Mary scrubbed the collar with hand soap, and the bright purple reappeared. There would be no “third-time-is-a-charm” with Buddy’s collar. It was obviously too loose. I tightened the collar down a notch and held it in front of Buddy.

He extended his nose for me to slip it on, his tail wagging. He likes Holly’s collar. I checked the tightness. I can still put two fingers easily between the collar and Buddy’s neck, so he can squeeze out of it if necessary.

I often wonder what Holly Dog would think of Buddy. Their personalities are as different as night and day. Their “link” is the purple collar and, of course, me. Thank God for dogs.

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