Dog Gone

It was our second Sunday there. Just eight days earlier, moving vans deposited our belongings into a two-story white painted house on a quiet cul-de-sac in the Silicon Valley. Our third move in less than two years, we felt like pros.  Our furniture was arranged, our clothing and wares were put away. Even the boxes that transported our goods were flattened and stored.

Welcome to Los Altos, California

We had driven through Los Altos, Spanish for “the heights” several times while looking for a rental. Lucky for us we met the Lanes. They were relocating cross country, as Mr. Lane signed a two-year contract with a hi-tech firm in Boston.  Mrs. Lane and their four young children were excited about the change.  Being from Massachusetts, I offered my take on the East Coast living and I highlighted how fun the seasons would be.

Of course, I skipped the parts about the frigid winter Nor’easters and sticky humid summers.   

We told the family that our only two requirements were: a house close to Robert’s work in Sunnyvale and a yard big enough and very secure for our wandering beagle, Bagel. Their home fit the bill…and then some! In the backyard, a wooden fence guarded the perimeter of their property and a gate gave access to a creek.  A sparkling pool sat in the middle with a wrought iron fence around it. There was also a lawn partially covered by a massive wooden deck, complete with a hammock.

Four couples and / or families were vying for this place so Mr. and Mrs. Lane left it up to the kids to decide.  Who did they want living in their home in their absence? We were thrilled to learn that they choose “the young couple with the dog”.  That was us…29 years ago.

From my journal: August 30, 1992, Los Altos, California

Bagel nosing oranges
from the fruit trees

“I really like it here. The house is spacious and backyard is huge! It backs up to Steven’s Creek…we can actually hear the water rushing by!!”

On that particular morning, we lounged around, sipping coffee while reading the Sunday papers on the patio right outside the living doors.  At some point, we noticed that Bagel was not in sight.  We first checked the house. Did we close the door with him still inside?  Not responding to the shaking of his snack jar, he wasn’t inside. 

Next, we went to the back gate at the edge of the creek.  Could he possibly gotten out?  No, it was secured tight.  We looked around the pool, but the wrought iron fence was closed. Then we heard a faint bark.  It sounded muffled and we followed where it led. That was to the wooden deck…he had crawled underneath it.

Bagel exploring the backyard deck

We enthusiastically called his name hoping to coax him out.  It didn’t work.  His bark became a cry, then a whimper. Was he hurt?  Panicked we ran to a nearby neighbor who we had just met. Maybe the Lanes had had trapped pets under there before and Phyllis would know what to do? She rushed over. Hearing the commotion, a few others came to help, as well. 

Bending down on hands and knees, there we were –  all five of us –  calling out to Bagel.  Someone suggested prying up a few floor boards. Another person suggested calling the fire department. Did fireman still rescue kittens from trees?  Dogs from under decks? And someone else recommended stomping on the deck to “encourage” him to come out.

A few minutes later, we noticed an eerie silence. No cries, no whimpering.  This concerned us even more. Just then one of the neighbors got up to fetch a crow bar and we all stood up and turned around. Only a few feet away, on the grass, was our beloved beagle. There he sat, quietly watching us. 

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