Thursday, July 29, 2010

Timber's back!!!! TIMBER IS HOME!!!!

Well, these past few weeks have been really hard. We lost Timber on the Fourth of July when she was scared by fireworks and ran away. What made this particularly terrible was that we were in Somerset, about an hour away from River Falls, where we live. I knew she wouldn't be able to find her way back home, and she probably wouldn't wind her way back to the house we were visiting, especially since that was where the fireworks went off.

I searched that night and slept a few hours until sunrise and then borrowed a bike to ride around and call for her and ask if anyone had seen her. Over the next few hours I got more and more worried. Jon drove around calling her and talking with people too. Over the next few days we put posters up everywhere in town and put fliers in about 200 mailboxes. We drove and hiked through the woods calling for her every day. Our friends joined us in talking with neighbors, passing out pictures, and calling and looking for her. I left her information with every Humane Society within 100 miles. We didn't hear a word.

As the weeks went by, I started to lose hope. No one ever called with a sighting and animal control never picked her up. I found myself saying things like, "Timber loved....." instead of "Timber loves...." I just couldn't believe that no one even saw her. She is such a people dog, I couldn't believe she didn't go up to a house the very first day after she was lost. She has my phone number on her collar and a microchip too. Why didn't anyone see her?
I kept on seeing her as I walked down the street in River Falls, or hear her scratching at the bedroom door to be let in, or imagining how happy I would be when I saw her again. On the flip side, I couldn't stop imagining how cold and scared she was out in the woods during the thunderstorms that raged during those weeks. I couldn't stop imagining her getting her collar tangled somewhere and slowly dying of dehydration, or getting hit by a car and limping off in the woods in pain.

Then one morning I got a call from a lady who shouted into the phone,

"I have Timber! I found your dog! I have her!"

I was flabbergasted. I asked her, "You're sure? She has her collar on?"

"Yes! Yes! She has her collar, I'm the lady in the log house who put out the sign! She just walked in my yard!"

Well, I immediately knew who it was. She was the very first lady I spoke to about losing Timber. She lived only a football field away from where we first lost Timber. When I first went up to her house, she first looked kind of angry. Most people in the country react that way when a stranger comes up to their house. They are pretty suspicious of you, until you hand them a photo of your lost dog and then they are very nice. They sympathize with you and promise to let all their friends know about your lost dog and want to tell you about how they lost their dog once. Anyhow, so I went up to talk to her and she was very sympathetic and promised to look for Timber. She told me,
"You know, lost animals always seem to end up here. I bet you she comes to my house. I will send out good thoughts and hopefully she'll come."
Over the next few days as Jon and I drove around trying to find Timber, convinced that she was wandering farther and farther away, we noticed that this lady had put a sign up by her mailbox with a description of Timber and a phone number to call for a sighting. I was really touched by how much she cared.
Somehow, I still didn't want to get my hopes up that she had really found Timber. I was sure I had mis-heard her on the phone, that she would have some similar looking dog on a leash when we arrived. After I told her we would drive out right away, I immediately started screaming at Jon that we had to leave RIGHT NOW!!! We had to go pick up Timber! Jon hadn't heard me on the phone and was agonizingly slow in responding. He almost couldn't understand what I was saying and I didn't want to take the time to explain, I just wanted him to get in the car so we could go already! I'll explain later! I started crying and he couldn't understand me as I ran around like the girl in "Little Miss Sunshine" when she hears she is going to be in the pageant. I gathered up Timber's food, her treats, my purse and keys and made sure I had the $50 reward money, and JON WAS IN THE BATHROOM!!! ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!?!?!! I banged on the door and danced back and forth and FINALLY we left to go pick up Timber. I couldn't sit still the entire hour drive up to Sommerset and as we pulled into the lady's driveway, I saw her standing outside with Timber on a leash! She had Timber!

I jumped out of the car and ran up to Timber. Timber sniffed me and started whimpering and licking my face and jumping up on me. Jon got out of the car and she ran to him and licked and jumped on him and came back over to knock me over. The lady told me Timber wouldn't eat or drink anything, so I pulled out some food and was happy to see Timber happily eat and drink. The lady refused to take the reward money so I gave her a big hug and we took Timber home.

On the drive home we had to keep the window rolled all the way down and I even leaned my head out the window a little bit. Timber smelled like rotten swamp. It was disgusting. She was also covered in burrs and ticks. Once we got Timber home, I realized just how skinny she was. She is normally a petite dog, refusing to eat too much, even when I have tried to fatten her up in the past. She has always been a slim dog at 50 lbs, but she had lost so much weight, she probably weighed about 40. Her spine jutted out of her back and her ribs were prominent. Her collar swung loosely on her neck, but because she is so furry, it isn't noticeable how skinny she is until you pet her.

We took Timber home and I let her sleep while I went to the grocery store and bought her the most expensive, fattening dog food I could find. I went home and fed her and had to break down and bathe her. She hates baths, so I didn't want to subject her to one right away, but I couldn't let her stay in the house smelling like she did. My roommates are good people and I couldn't subject them to her smell. Bathing her was pretty hard because as I rubbed the shampoo in her skin, it just reconfirmed how emaciated she was. Also she hated it! The first thing I do after getting Timber back is do something to her that she hates!

Over the past few days I have been trying to feed her six or seven times a day, much to the jealousy to Jon's dog, who is on a diet. She has fallen back into her old routines without too much difficulty. She still loves to sleep at the end of my bed and under the kitchen table. She still loves going for walks and getting her belly rubbed. The only two differences I have noticed is her new habit of digging holes to lay down in and burying her food for later if she gets full. She is also still having major digestive issues, I assume from not eating hardly anything for three weeks and then suddenly getting stuffed with as much healthy food as she wants. She has now been back five days and everything is normal and she is starting to put the weight back on.

I am so happy to have her back home and safe. I still can't believe it every time I look at her.

Sunday, July 11, 2010


Timber was lost the evening of July 4th in Somerset WI, on 210th Avenue off of County Road I. She is a Border collie mix (black, white and gray), about 50 pounds, wears a pink and yellow collar with tags and is very friendly. She will come when called.

Please contact Sara Allsop at 715 441 4834. Call anytime.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

You can't say that here!

I finished teaching summer school classes the other day. I taught three 90-minute, 15-day classes based on whatever I thought 10 or more students would be interested in signing up for. See, Hudson Middle School has this neat summer program where teachers can sign up to teach classes they think would be fun. If at least ten students sign up for these classes, then the school will pay the teacher to teach that class. Some of the classes are things like volleyball, jazz band, photography and so forth. I decided to teach Book Club, Dog Training and Improv, and I was lucky enough to have all three classes fill up.

It was a crazy busy and stressful three weeks, but also very fun. One thing that was a new experience was teaching the Improv class. Now, I'm no expert improver, but I've done it for a long time and I've taught other subjects long enough to know that it's more important to be a good teacher, than to be an expert at the subject. So, for three weeks I tried (sometimes in vain) to get middle school kids to be real in front of their classmates. I tried to get them to take their hands out of their pockets, speak loudly, stay away from the back wall of the stage, and not have every scene be three too-cool-for-school middle schoolers standing around staring at each other and wondering what to do next. I tried to get them to shed their stiff "cool" shell and have some movement and emotion in their bodies. I tried to get them to care about the scene they were in....which they don't want to do, because as soon as they try hard at something, as soon as they're invested, the possibility of failure blocks out any benefits that could possibly come from succeeding.
Anyhow, as I was trying to get them to do those things, a few swears may have slipped out. See, in a dog training class, or a book club, or any English class I've ever taught, I would never say bad words in front of students. However, teaching a theater class is a whole different ballgame. You've got to be much more real. Everything is more in the moment. You can't be the same type of teacher you would be for a math class. So, in the course of the three weeks, I may have said a few naughty words, such as "dammit!" or "hell!"
Well, this came back to bite me on my last day of teaching. I was in the office saying goodbye to the principal when out in the hallway we hear a student shout, "You bastard!" The principal looked alarmed and was about to go out to the hallway to take care of it when we hear, "You can't say that! Only Ms. Allsop can say bad words at school!"