Shawnee’s romping ahead of us, tail wagging.  Where’s Simon?  I look behind us — no sign of the big, black fuzzy dog.  I glance into the woods to our left, still no Simon.  Where is he?  There’s no use calling for him – at almost fourteen years old, he’s mostly deaf.  The only way I can even begin to get him to come to me these days is to use hand signals.  But without him in sight, that is no use to me now.

Not knowing which way to look, Bryon and I split up.  Bryon backtracks up the trail, and I head down the road towards our house.  Before long, I spy him sitting at the intersection of Cougar Run and Shady Hollow and all is well.  However, I can’t help but think of a vivid memory from almost ten years ago on a trip to Canada.

While dating early in our courtship, Bryon and I planned a trip to upstate New York and Quebec, Canada.  Mid-July seemed like the perfect time to head north for cooler temperatures.  Only problem is that the temperatures aren’t cooler as a record heat wave is enveloping all of Quebec, with highs well in the 90s as we stop in Montreal.

We head even further north to a Bed & Breakfast we booked near Mt. Tremblant, a popular resort for skiing in the winter.  As we investigate provincial parks for hiking trails, we become aware of a recurring theme.  No Dogs, no dogs, no dogs.  Every park seems to prohibit dogs, and every trail we come upon forbids dogs.  What’s a person to do traveling with a dog?

We finally find a multi-use paved trail along the river that allows bicycles and thankfully dogs.  Still as hot as ever, we unclip Simon from his leash to take a dip in the rushing, cool waters of the river.  Feeling playful, Bryon and I start to jog.  Threatening a friendly competition, we sprint a bit faster towards a switchback in the trail and run as fast as we can up the hill.  We come to a stop, panting and laughing.

Suddenly, I realize Simon is gone.  I start calling for him (he’s two years old and has excellent hearing), but he doesn’t appear.  We run up and down the trail, calling his name.  We go down to the river — there is absolutely no sign of him.  After 20 minutes, we still haven’t found him, and now it’s getting dark.  Now I start to panic.

We are in a foreign country.  We are in a foreign country in a french-speaking province.  We are in a foreign country where people speak french, and it’s getting dark, and honestly I have no idea where we are.  Finally, I tell Bryon he has to go back to our B&B and get the car and some flashlights.  I keep the leash in hopes I will still find him lurking behind some tree.  But deep inside, my heart is sinking.  I have visions of posting flyers, looking for him day after day, and him lost to me forever.  I can’t take it if I lose my beloved fuzzy boy.

Just as I am sinking every deeper in the depths of despair, Bryon yells my name.  I peer into the darkness and there’s Bryon, with Simon in tow.  He found him halfway back down the path towards our B&B sitting in the middle of the trail.  Knowing how panicked I was, he devised an impromptu leash from tying his two boot laces together and tethered them to Simon’s collar.

The good news is we are all together.  The bad news is it is pitch dark, and we truly have no idea where we are and how far it is back to our B&B.  We think there is a loop and it will be faster to keep going.  Finally, spying a map, we realize we are miles away.  But what can we do except to keep moving forward.

We spy two older, well-dressed ladies and ask them if they know how far it is to town.  Unbelievably they offer us a ride back.  Explaining that we have our large, dirty dog with us, we decline.  But they persist in their kindness and willingness to help, and the three of us pile into the back of her luxury sedan, complete with leather seats.  Finally, hours after our short walk turned into a wild escapade, we finally trek up the stairs to our guest room.

As I learned that day, life with Simon would be filled with adventures.  As they say, during the past ten years, there’s never been a dull moment.