It really was out of our hands. With spring break just over a week away, our original dog sitter experienced a family emergency. So we reached out to two boys in our neighborhood and asked them to come over and spend time with our puppy, Milo. Sweet Milo is notorious for hiding in impossibly small spaces and refusing to come out - even for food - when strangers call. Unfortunately, during both visits, Milo was decidedly, embarrassingly, very unfriendly with the boys. So, when we woke up the morning of the trip, we knew what had to be done. The baby was going with us to the "No Pets Allowed" vacation house.
And yes, we left the other two, best-behaved dogs, behind.
It was a long ride to the beach, with Milo in self-imposed exile under a car seat. Us humans had plenty time to develop a cover story in case we got busted. In a nutshell, we decided "the dog is staying with friends on the island, and 'just happened' to be over for a visit" would be simple and believable. We even stooped so low as to inform said friends so that they would now be complicit in our lies.
When we at last arrived, it was agreed that we would all take turns escorting Milo outside to the bathroom, every hour, to ensure no indoor accidents. That night, he slept in his crate in the master bedroom. Sure enough, in the wee hours, he started crying. Hearing my husband snoring next to me, I decided to take one for the team, and I hustled Milo outside.
The wind was literally howling, which spooked us both, but Milo still managed to do his business by the light of the full moon. I was feeling the call myself, and so, being cold and barefoot, in just a t-shirt and pajama pants, I was eager to get back inside. Once I saw him do his slow little "back leg kick", I raced him up the steps to the house. I grabbed the door knob, turned it, and ... it didn't budge.
Immediately I began a frantic run around the property, with Milo happily frolicking at my heels. I tried every door I could find. Locked, locked, lockedity, locked. Panic began setting in as the winds rose to a fevered pitch and the temperature plummeted. I banged on doors and called out my family's names, but it was no good - my hands and voice turned raw as the screams of the night air drowned me out. With hypothermia slowly setting in, I suddenly realized that my 45-year-old body, which had birthed two large babies, could no longer hold "it", and I needed to pee asap.
Yes, dear reader, there were two full moons that night.
After a humiliating and quite chilly squat in the trees, I resumed my self-rescue mission. I next considered climbing. If I could get up to the balcony off the master, I could wake my husband. But without shoes or a ladder, shimmying up a pole promised splinters in very bad places. I did throw a pine cone up there, but pitifully, it barely cleared the railing.
Finally acknowledging defeat, I moved into survival mode. It was time to build a shelter.
Milo and I investigated a screened porch on the ground floor, and lucked on to some accent pillows. After a quick search of a utility closet (which was too small for me to get into --- yes, I tried) we hit jackpot with a lounge chair cushion. So, we created a fort, pressed up against a glass door looking directly into the warm foyer, shielded from the monsoon by nothing more than a screen and a prayer.
You learn a lot about yourself trapped in the wild. You discover just what you're made of; if you have the raw strength to survive. And ultimately, you hope your family won't feel too guilty when they find you petrified under a table with a yippy dog licking your frozen tears.
I eventually grew tired of feeling sorry for myself and watching Milo press his little paws up against the window. So I decided to recommit to a last-ditch effort at salvation. Making a mental map of the house, I grasped at straws and hoped that there might be another door on the upper deck that I didn't try. Throwing off my pillows, I roused Milo and we made a final attempt to get back inside.
We raced up the steps to the deck. I found a door! I grabbed the knob, turned it and ... EUREKA!!!!!!!! WE WERE SAVED!!!!!!
Just as we triumphantly entered the bedroom, I heard my husband's cell phone ringing. It was my daughter.
Me: "I'm fine, I'm fine, tell her I'm fine."
Him: "What?" Hello?"
- pause -
Him: "I don't know."
Me: "I got locked out. I'm fine now."
Him: "She got locked out ... I don't know how. Go back to bed."
- snore -
I looked at my cell phone and it was after 4:30 a.m. I had a text from my daughter at 4:00 a.m. "Why are you calling me?"
Um, no reason.
Sliding under the sheets, with the sensation slowly coming back into my feet, a feeling of immense relief washed over me, and I was finally able to go back to sleep.
There are a lot of important lessons I learned from my near-death experience, the most impactful one being that my family has no compassion and they think I'm a complete idiot. Such fools - they just haven't reached enlightenment like me and Milo.
Until next time, keep crowin' and always know your key code!
P.S. We did get busted with the dog, but the property manager bought our story and he and my husband came to a "bro code" agreement!