Our family went hiking up to Siler Bald (Franklin, NC) with the family dog on the Saturday after Christmas. It was Annie's 2nd birthday. I dropped her long leash, but kept it within grabbing distance, to take a picture of the kids. She got ahead of us...we called her to come back. She almost did, but then something caught her eye or scent up on the bald and off she went. She had disappeared into the woods by the time we reached the top...and we didn't have a clue in which direction. We called and searched as best we could for 2 hours...had to head down, but left LOST DOG signs on paper plates we had brought along. We told the various hikers and hunters, who all called for her along their routes....but no luck. We left a tee shirt up on the bald for her to smell and then dragged my sweater down the trail hoping she might follow the scent. We even rubbed against trees to leave our scent (thanks to the movie Twilight!). We came home very dejected...I was especially concerned about the long leash, afraid it would get snagged and break her neck. Luckily it was not hooked on the choke loop, so it was loose enough for her to slide out of.

Sunday morning at 6:30am Jack, with two friends, hiked back up to the bald...hoping they might find her waiting there. It was a miserable, rainy, windy, cold adventure. They were all soaked to the bone! And had no luck. Sunday afternoon Jack and I hiked back up, calling and whistling along the way. We combed some of the dense wooded area at the bald looking for her luck.

Monday we called the various vets/shelters to notify them of her. We stopped by the Wayah Ranger station and they told us to drive Rainbow Springs Road, that lots of animals that get lost end up on a road, looking for shelter. We drove the 12 miles of that calling and luck. We then hiked a Forest service road behind the trail, calling and luck. We had really hoped someone would have turned her in on Monday, so by day's end we were pretty much a basket case over her.

The plan was to get up and hike back to the bald on Tuesday, searching more of the dense areas. I ran by the Franklin Press to drop off her picture for an ad in the paper, and was making us a quick breakfast before we headed out, when the phone rang. A lady asked me to describe our lost dog, and she said she thought she had her. I told her the defining mark was a green tattoo on her belly...which she confirmed! We drove as fast as we could to her house...barely daring to think it was indeed Annie. But it was!

The couple had returned from a 2 week visit to their daughter's home, and were unpacking the car when they discovered there was a dog sitting in the back seat. Annie jumped out of the car, became frightened, and ran a short distance away. They called her and she finally approached again. They could tell she was a pet b/c she knew cars and looked healthy. They coaxed her into the house and she went and plopped down on the rug by the fireplace (which is where her bed is at home!). They say they have had other dogs come and go (they must have that good aura that dogs can sense!) and have gotten in the habit of calling the females ANNIE, as in little orphan Annie, her name! When they called her Annie, her ears perked up and her tail wagged. She spent the night with them inside! Apparently, they have had luck finding lost dog owners at Loafer's Glory, so they put Annie in the car and drove over to inquire if anyone knew of a lost dog. I had put a notice up, but the clerk had not seen it. They returned home and were going to call the Humane Society, when Loafer's Glory called and said there was a notice on the board that sounded like the dog they had. We were then called and the ending was a happy one!

It appears that Annie traveled approximately 10 miles from the Bald to this house. Interestingly, she had to make a choice when she reached the highway of going east or west...she choose east which was the correct direction to get her home. It is also amazing to see all the roads she could have wandered down but didn't. She found the perfect spot to be rescued...and was only about 4 miles from us!

We are still amazed that she didn't have a scratch on her...tender paws, but that is it! As one kind person emailed, the waiting is the hardest part!

She is exhausted, but grateful to be home. And we learned to always hold onto the leash! It has been a difficult and trying experience for the entire family, and we are grateful that it turned out so well.

Nancy, NC