Searching for Petey

Petey Milligan
Petey Milligan

Dorothy, our de facto mother-in-law on the other end of the pasture, called tonight to say that Petey, her dog, was missing. Abby and I saw Petey yesterday evening when he came up to the yard and wanted to come in and play with our dogs, but he ran off. We didn’t think much of it, since he is out and about all the time. It’s hard to search for Petey because he is nearly deaf from old age, so you can’t call for him.

Tonight I searched the patch for him with no luck. I suppose he could still come home, but Abby is afraid the coyotes may have gotten him. We’ll keep our eyes open.

While I was out I did run into this Eastern Cottontail. He hadn't seen Petey either.
While I was out I did run into this Eastern Cottontail. He hadn’t seen Petey either.


  1. Please update. Petey!! Why is it the darling little dogs with the cute names are the ones that go missing. Heart sick. Need to know.

  2. I am sorry to report that we have not heard from Petey since Dorothy reported him missing. He was very old and in ill health, so he may have gone off into the woods to die.

  3. My friend Melody moved in to my old place out in Richard Spur about a year ago. Her first night there she let her little dog, Peachy out to do his business. She kept a close watch but somehow he managed to wander off and she never saw him again. May Peachy and Petey find peace in Heaven.

  4. This is Dorothy’s column from June 29, 2011…

    Isn’t it amazing how much one can miss a pet! I’ve discovered tanew, how imoortant four-legged friends can be since Petey, our 11-pound wire-haired terrier, has apparently fallen off the face of the planet.
    Petey has owned me for the last 10 years or so. My son, Ralph, and his friend, Darla, brought him to us after the death of Shelah, our beloved 17-year-old American Eskimo. George and I had resolved that we would have no more dogs, but Ralph kept telling me confidentially, “Mom, Dad really needs a dog.” (I suspect that he was at the same ttime saying to George, “Dad, Mom really needs a dog.”)
    Anyway, they brought Petey to us. Sone friends had rescued him before he was taken to a shelter. His original owner moved to a nursing home that didn’t take pets, and the friends who were dog fanciers decided they’d keep him until they could find a home for him. Ralph and Darla were careful to tell us, “Just take him for a week. We’ll come back and get him if you decide you don’t want him.”
    Of course, within a week Petey had become a member of the family, but he was definitely George’s dog. He’d often come and sit with George in a recliner and watch TV. Petey might mention to me that he was hungry and graciously allow me to take care of his needs, but he had little to do with me otherwise. Petey brought with him a basketball and he was an expert at dribblling it. I briefly considered enrolling him in Byng School. It seemed a shame for such talent to be wasted on us.
    When George became ill five years ago, Petey was sad and lonely. I tried to be extra friendly, but any time I invited him to come sit with me, he’d emphatically let me know that he was no lap dog. Occasionally, he’d ask to be lifted on to our bed at night but he’d move to the most distant area, and usually he’d slip away during the night.
    When Lane Self, our youth pastor moved in with us for a six-month stay, Petey was delighted. Under Lane’s tutelage Petey began to use his doggie doors for the first time. He also learned all the usual dog tricks, such as shaking hands and rolling over, but he refused to perform for me.
    Petey was very possessive of his home. Any time a visitor brought a dog, Petey would was quick to “mark” his territory. When the Dale Dunagans stayed with us while their house was being finished they brought with them a very active and personable young male poodle. Petey became almost dehydrated during that time in his efforts to establish his homeland boundaries.
    Dale Dunagan, New Bethel’s pastor, was always one of Petey’s favorite people. Dale has the habit of kicking off his slip-on shoes when he sits down to visit, and Petey soon learned that if he backed up in front of Dale, Dale would massage. Petey’s back. Any time Dale was too absorbed in conversation to keep up his therapy, Petey would bark his displeasure until Dale was again his masseur.
    I’m not sure when Petey began his irritating habit of clawing the carpet while he went in circles trying to get the floor sufficiently softened to make a good bed. When I took him to be groomed, I always asked the groomer to shorten his nails, but it didn’t seem to help in the least, and every time I vacuumed I’d sweep up a cupfull or more of fuzz from the carpet. By this time, Petey was extremely hard of hearing. I had to shout to get his attention. When he finally looked at me, I’d yell “NO! Stop fluffing the carpet!” He understood my body language perfectly and would halt for as long as I made eye contact. Sometimes it took a swat with a folded newspaper tto get my point across.
    There was no doubt that Petey had become an old man. He slept a great deal, but he seemed to feel fine. He still had a cute, eager face, and he’d occasionally play a bit with his basketball though he no longer dribbled..
    He had trained me a great deal better than I’d trained him. Each morning when he awoke, he’d come and find me to let him out the front door. He would then go to the back yard, step through a hole in the fence, come up the back steps and make his way through two sets of doggy doors and come back to me with his curly tail wagging, saying in dog language, “Surprise! See how fast I am still.!” We repeated this routine several times daily.
    About 10 days ago, he did not come in at night. I assumed he had elected to stay in his outside doghouse. When he didn’t come in for breakfast, his favorite time of day, I began looking for him.
    I searched every cranny of the house from basement to upstairs bedrooms.. Then I began looking in the yard and the fields and all along old Highway 99. Richard, my adoptive son-in-law, helped me search, but to no avail.
    I can only conclude that a coyote or perhaps a fox came in and carried him away. His compact 11 pounds would be no match for a hungry predator.
    I tell myself that Petey had a long life. I remind myself that the house stays a lot cleaner because there’s no dog food scattered around. (He always took a mouthful of dry food and carried it to the middle of an area rug in the kitchen. I sometimes chided him for his fondness for ‘take-out.’ Often he left bits for a snack later.) I don’t need to vacuum the carpet in my den because Petey hasn’t been fluffing it up to nap consistency. Besides, I tell myself, Petey and I weren’t exactly bosum buddies. We had only toleration for each other’s idiosyncracies.
    Still, more than ever, I rattle like a marble in this big, old house. Its emptiness echoes. When I ,packed up alll Petey’s worldly possessions so Raplh could take them to Thelma Louise, his diaper-wearing Mini-Pin, I had a slightt allergy attack. My mouth became dry, and my eyes started watering. At that moment, I’d have given anything to have had an exasperating critter underfoot to whom I could yell, “For goodness sakes, Petey, STOP fluffing up the carpet!”

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