Withstanding summer’s topsy-turvy ‘Dog Daze’

Christi and Sam Osborne with Tallulah (white dog with spots) and Nova.

I originally had a different column planned for this week, but events that occurred on June 19 led to a change of topic. Owning pets is in many ways like being a parent. Just like we raise, teach and love our children, we also have that responsibility for our pets. And just like people, every animal has its own unique personality.

One of my pets in particular has caused me quite a bit of extra effort in the past few weeks — Nova. A black Lab/pit mix who has an adventuresome spirit, Nova got herself into a tight place — literally on June 19.

We are blessed with two dogs. Nova is the elder sister, whom we adopted from a dog rescue in Central Texas five years ago. Tallulah (or Taloola, as my son sometimes spells it), is a brilliant terrier/border collie mix, who was adopted in December 2014 from the Waco animal shelter.

Another pet might be in the mix some day, but right now we have our hands more than full with the two we’ve got — especially with Nova’s personality.

There are frequent late night wakeup calls for outdoor time that Nova is especially persistent to ensure the dogs are granted.

Our house in Three Rivers has a fenced back yard, but that doesn’t mean a dog can’t still seek and probe for weak spots — and sometimes, she can even get into trouble by staying in her own yard.

My wife, Christi, son Sam and I dearly love our pets — they are part of the family. We call them “the girls” and they enrich our lives in wonderful ways that only devoted a pet owner can understand.

In some ways, pets can serve as angels. They offer us unconditional love, unfailing support and untiring companionship. But that doesn’t mean they can’t be a little difficult at times.

On June 19, Sam and I let the girls out in the backyard for a little exercise and to take care of necessary business. A few minutes later, as always, Tallulah trotted to the door and whined to be let in. Nova sometimes likes to stay out a little longer — or a lot longer – so we didn’t initially become concerned when she didn’t join Tallulah at the door.

After more time passed, and the day’s heat began to increase, we became more concerned. We called Nova again and again, and there was no response. I drove around the neighborhood looking for her.

I came home and thought I heard the telltale “thump, thump” of her tail under the shed, but I wasn’t sure. Where was Nova?

I went to the hardware store to get a shovel to dig and see if Nova was trapped under the shed. But through all this, and my calling her, she remained quiet. If Tallulah had been under the shed, there would have been no doubt. She would have barked, whined and cried until she was reunited with us.

Nova is usually much more quiet, but she can whine — and sound remarkably like Chewbacca — everyone’s favorite Star Wars Wookiee — at times.

But on June 19, as the heat rose, she was nowhere to be seen — or heard.

Finally, Sam and I both heard her — or thought we did — under the shed. My mother-in-law, Joan, called the fire department seeking some assistance, and they were out responding to a fire. She called the police, and two officers showed up to help assess the situation.

Finally, the cavalry arrived in the form of Three Rivers Volunteer Fire Department members: Tracy Lewis. Michael Burtchell, Klaus Hinz and Corky Lewis.

They used a hydraulic jack to lift the shed up, and Nova tentatively crawled and then ran — out from under the shed. She had gotten under the shed from the back, but the tight spot meant she couldn’t figure out how to get back the same way.

I made a small donation of everything I had in my wallet ($25) to the fire department, and that rescue made an 8-year-old’s day. Sam had wondered at one point — when we weren’t sure where Nova was — if he would ever see Nova again.

We love both our girls, and life certainly wouldn’t be the same without them. The police and firefighters were heroes to us and helped comfort — and eventually thrill — Sam, who had been distraught over Nova’s disappearance.

We were on a time crunch that day, but the fire department worked quickly enough that Sam and I were able to get to a school board meeting in George West shortly after the rescue.

There’s an old saying: “Have you hugged your kids today?” and that’s definitely incredibly important. But don’t forget those furry family members who add so much to our lives on a daily basis. Have you hugged your pet today?

Jeff Osborne is the editor of The Progress. A Texan since 1973, he has worked for Texas newspapers for 25 years.