A Service Dog to the Rescue
By Sheri S. Levy
My stomach clinched.
Kathy, sobbed on the phone. “Logan’s missing! My husband’s golfing and hasn’t returned my call.”
“I’m on my way. I have to get Sydney’s service vest.”
I filled my waist pouch with his favorite treats, located his water bottle. “Let’s go, Syd.”
Kathy stood out front, waving her arms.
Sydney and I bolted from the car. She blubbered information in between blowing her nose. “Logan’s autism caused him to have a meltdown when his brothers left to play golf.”
I clasped my hands together. “You need to know I’ve only played hide and seek with Sydney and other children. He’s a service dog in training, not a search and rescue dog. Since Logan and Sydney have made such a strong connection on the beach, Syd may be able to find Logan. But you’ll need to stay here.”
Kathy’s eyes widened.
I touched her shoulder. “You need to be here in case he comes home or someone returns him.”
She sobbed. “I’m going to go crazy, waiting.”
It seemed a load of gravel hit the pit of my stomach, one stone at a time. “Will Logan get in the water?”
“Not without his life jacket. He’s frightened of the waves.” She shook her head. “He can only say his first name.”
I blew out my breath, and smiled. “That’s good, he won’t get in the water. Can you give me an item he wears? Sydney needs his scent.”
I wrapped Syd’s vest around his back. He knew immediately he was on duty. His amber eyes brightened and his lips spread into a grin.
Rushing back, Kathy carried Logan’s ball cap and spoke in spurts. “He doesn’t like… the sun in his eyes.”
Syd and I jogged toward the sand dunes. I held Logan’s ball cap up to Sydney’s nose. “Find, Logan.”
He inhaled the scent, backed up, and jiggled his stub.
“Good boy, Syd. Find, Logan.”
He dashed toward the water, with his nose level with the sand, and then he made a U-turn. Sydney woofed. Logan would recognize Syd’s bark and come running.
If he heard. Or if he could? Shivers went up my neck.
I called Logan’s name. High tide moved down, leaving no foot-prints, no trail of food, and no way to know which way Logan might have gone.
After an hour and a half, I said, “Down,” in someone’s empty carport. Syd panted heavily and rested. Once his breathing slowed, we shared a bottle of water.
Kathy phoned. “My husband has contacted the island police. One car is patrolling the streets.”
My voice squeaked out. “So, he’s done this before?”
“Twice. Each time it’s happened, he’s walked a little farther.”
“Does he have a special hiding spot?”
She whispered, “No.”
My chest tightened. “Okay, Syd. Find, Logan.”
He wiggled his rear end, darted to the dunes and put his nose close to the sand, sniffing like a hound dog. Chills traveled up my body. He was onto something. It better not be a fish.
Sydney tramped up to a tree in someone’s backyard, turned around and circled me like he was saying, “Hurry up.”
“What do you smell, Syd.”
He barked and showed me foot prints. They were small, bare feet.
“Okay. Show me.”
Sydney sniffed the ground and followed footprints from the ocean to the trees.
“What is it Syd?”
Steps to someone’s house, painted sky-blue, had disguised a three-sided outdoor shower under the wooden steps. An ocean blue plastic shower curtain decorated with colored fish closed the opening. Syd crept towards the shower stall.
I pressed my lips together. Could Logan be inside? Was he hurt?
Syd’s body squirmed, making an indention in the sand with his bottom. “Good boy.”
I slid the curtain back, an inch at a time. On the small bench shaded by the tree, Logan slept with one arm under his head and one arm hanging off the ledge.
My eyes overflowed. I bent face to face with Sydney and whispered, “You have the honor of waking him.”
Sydney’s eyes sparkled. He slinked in, put his nose under Logan’s limp arm, moved closer, and licked his cheek.
Logan’s eyes opened. He squealed, “Syd-ney. Syd-ney. Want see.” Logan sat, lifting his beaming face, showing two missing teeth on the top and on the bottom.
I snatched Logan’s hand and said, “Sydney, home.”