CrazyTravelers Call 911: Misadventure Amid the Dog Days of Summer

We had intended to fly under the radar screen on Cape Cod. Covid-related travel restrictions were being put in place. We were out of state interlopers. We planned to drive the speed limit. Use our blinkers. We never intended to call 911 and have the police come to our house. But here’s how that went down:

We were coming back from a day of beaching and exploring. As we stepped out of the car, our dog Coco, with her leash still on, saw some sort of critter and took off – dragging her leash behind her. Our rental house is at the end of a windy street that dead ends in a dense thicket of prickly shrubs that become a marsh. The dog proceeds to follow the critter deep into the thicket – getting herself snagged on the thorny bushes. We could only occasionally hear her, and we couldn’t see her anywhere.

Adam plowed in trying to find her. He must’ve been in full fight or flight mode, because me and the girls tried for a hot second and got scratched up. “Thicket” doesn’t really do justice to this topography. It’s thick prickly bushes growing out of thick dense mud. I run to the house and bring out long sleeve shirts, pants and sneakers which we throw over our clothes so we don’t get more cut up. Then me and the girls circle around the thicket in different directions, trying to hone in on where Coco is.

I stumble upon Adam as I search for a way in. He is covered in cuts, has mud up to his thighs and is shoeless, because the mud was so thick they it “ate” his shoes. He’d had to abandon them in his search.

“You’d better call 911, because I can’t get to her and it’s next to impossible to get through there,” he told me. He was concerned she’d sink in that mud. He heads to the car to circle around and try to get into the thicket/marsh from another angle.

I admit, I was a tad reticent to call the police 10 minutes into our search for a lost dog. But then I heard Vivi hysterically call to Zara that she couldn’t find her way out of whatever part of the thicket she’d crawled in to on her search for Coco.

A dog stuck in there is one emergency. But children stuck in there is another. I admit, for the better part of the summer I’ve been wishing that my kids would get lost in the woods somewhere and give me and Adam some peace and quiet. But it turns out if that actually happens, it’s not so peaceful!!!

911 was quickly dialed.

While I was still on the phone with emergency dispatch, Vivi emerged from the thicket cut up and a bit hysterical, but fine. But still no dog.

I update 911 dispatch:

One child out.

One child and a dog still somewhere in the marshy, prickly thicket.

911 dispatch won’t let me off the phone. They want to keep in contact. But I want to keep in contact with Zara, who is somewhere in the thicket and keeping in communication with me by yelling updates.

So I hand the phone to Vivi and try to head in myself. Until Vivi tells me that 911 very clearly told HER to tell ME to NOT go in myself. They don’t want MORE people stuck in the thicket. Makes sense. But I try anyway. After all that’s my kid. And my dog. But I’m at a particularly impenetrable spot. A few steps in and my arms are scratched and my glasses snagged off my face. So I stop and turn around, as I know professional help is on the way.

Zara shouts out that she HEARS the dog and is close.

Zara shouts that SEES the dog.

Zara shouts she HAS the dog.

I tell her not to move and that help is coming to guide her and Coco out.

But upon finding the dog, Zara has also found the clearer area that the dog must have followed in. Zara reports (later) that she crawled down that slightly less prickly path on hands and knees, holding the dog and avoiding the thorns. She yells that she doesn’t know where she is, but can see a house.

Emergency response has still not arrived yet (in actually this probably all evolved in about 2 minutes), so I yell to Zara to bang on the door to the house, find out the address, asked to use their phone, and call Adam (who is still circumnavigating in the car trying to find an alternative way into the thicket) to pick her up whereever she is.

So, at the point that I have Vivi with me, have Zara with the dog, and have Adam enroute to pick up Zara, the police show up. And the fire department. And an ambulance and fire truck. We’re in a small town, after all. And there were kids involved. They sent everyone.

I’m relatively calm given the pandemonium.

Adam has confirmed that he has Zara in the car with him (apparently she’d freaked out a very sweet old man, but he let her use his phone and provided the pick-up address).

Adam has confirmed that they are enroute home.

Vivi, however, is still hysterical because she hasn’t yet seen her dog…or her sister (We’re not sure which one she is more upset about.)

The police and fire rescue tend to Vivi but are anxious to lay their eyes on the second child. Until Zara is in front of them, they are still very much in emergency response mode – prepared to do a search & rescue in the thicket. I keep assuring them that all is okay. They keep waiting. (It feels like an eternity, but is probably just a minute or two).

** I should note that as this particular point in time amid the pandemonium, our friend from college Hillary shows up. We were supposed to have met her for dinner at 6:30pm, but I’d called from the perimeter of the thicket at 6ish, when the dog had disappeared, and told her that we “had a little problem with the dog” and that we “may be running late.” Also a dog owner and a mom, Hillary offered to come to us. When she walked up the driveway, I’ve never been so happy to see a familiar face. Though I can’t imagine the impression we made. Nothing like reconnecting with a friend that you haven’t seen in years, while bleeding, covered in mud…and with a police entourage. A CrazyTraveler reunion for the record books! ***

Adam finally pulls in with Zara. She’s a bit cut up but fine. When she sees me and the police, she starts sobbing. Family hug. Coco hug.

The medics work with both girls to calm them down, take their blood pressure and check out their cuts. One medic explains the “adrenaline rush” they may be feeling. Instructs then to put neosporin on cuts. To take deep breaths.

The dog is smelling everyone and looking totally innocent, like she’s not the cause of this entire situation. The police officer pets her. The medics pet her. She wags her tail. She rolls on her back to get some belly rubs. She is securely on leash, but we opt put her in the house. We don’t want a repeat!

The policeman takes my ID – to register the event, I suppose. He says nothing about us being from out of state. He asks no questions about when we had entered Massachusetts (prior to the Aug 1 travel restrictions) or if we’d had covid tests prior to entering (we did). He hands me back my ID without comment. The fire department medics have me sign a release declining transport to the hospital for the kids. The emergency is officially over. We thank them. We exchange pleasantries. We laugh a little. They move on to whatever their next first responder adventure will be.

Me and Adam move on to a glass of wine with Hillary.

Okay, maybe two glasses.

Or four…

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