" I Get That Sinking Feeling...": Sunday Scribblings

I get that sinking feeling when I remember my dog Emily Elizabeth and fireworks. I adopted Emily Elizabeth in the summer of 1996. I had just moved into the home I live in now. It had been a difficult spring and summer. My father had died in June, my 15-year-old springer spaniel Nikki had died in July. I was living alone with another dog Lucy, a springer/cocker mix. That August I decided it was time to get another dog.

I found Emily at the Kootenai County Humane Society in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. She had been running loose on Kathleen Ave. After she was picked up nobody came to claim her. She came with some fears. She was uneasy walking across door jams. She was nervous around campfires. Brooms made her run away. Her biggest fear was fireworks. When loud firecrackers and fireworks started their noisy prelude the first days of July each year I knew we were in trouble with Emily.

The first year she hid in the closet. Another time she scratched the carpet trying to get into the bedroom where she felt safe. When the Fourth of July came around I always got that sinking feeling for Emily.

After JEJ and I were married we decided one year we would go with friends to watch the fireworks display in Colville. The dogs were safe in our fenced land. Emily was handling the holiday noise very well. When our friends came to pick us up Emily began to show nervousness by pacing around and I got that sinking feeling I should stay home. I almost said something as I looked over my shoulder uneasily when we drove away. Emily was standing at the gate panting and pacing nervously. Why didn’t I listen to my gut?

When we returned home a few hours later Emily was gone. Once again I got that sinking feeling. Why didn’t I stay home? Why did we have to go and watch fireworks that weren’t that entertaining? I was angry at myself. I was also frantic.

We called her and searched our property first. No holes were found around the fences. I checked closets, sheds, any places she may have taken refuge. I was not brave enough to go drive along the county road calling her name. I made JEJ go. I couldn’t deal with seeing her hit by a car or injured along the road. If she came home I wanted to be here. I continued to call her, search, and pray.

JEJ returned and reported he had seen no sign of Emily. It was now getting very late and I attempted to go to sleep. I tossed and turned as I wondered where Emily may have gone to escape the loud noises of the fireworks. I couldn’t lose the sinking feeling.

I got up very early the next morning and decided I needed to go walk around our neighborhood and call her. When I opened the gate here came a wet and dirty Emily Elizabeth. When she saw me her eyes lit up and her tail wagged. I ran to greet her and covered myself with her dirt and smelly water. I yelled to JEJ that Emily was home. Relief.

She was tired and hungry, but unharmed. She was nervous, but happy to be home. The other dogs greeted her with enthusiasm. We will never know where Emily went, but we suspect she jumped the gate and went down into the gully where Martin Creek flows. The rushing water may have masked the loud noises of the firecrackers in the neighborhood.

Since that ordeal we have never left our dogs alone during that time around the Fourth of July. Even if a dog doesn’t seem bothered by the noise, one firecracker can put them into panic.
I also learned through this experience that when I get that sinking feeling, I need to listen to what my gut tells me.

Emily died in December of 2004. She enriched our lives and taught us many important lessons about life. We loved her and miss her every day.
You can read other Sunday Scribblings here.


  1. I got that sinking feeling reading your story that maybe I had forgotten you had lost Emily and then adopted Emily II after losing Emily. I wondered if I hadn't forgotten the story about when you lost Emily on the Fourth of July.

    So true about gut feelings. My gut feelings have been wrong a few times, but overall they're pretty reliable and I'm not that good at trusting them.

    I'm really bothered by lost dog stories and am really happy when they turn out with the dog's return.

    I think it goes back to that Lassie episode that last a couple weeks or so when Lassie got away and Timmy gave up and was burying Lassie's toys out back and then Lassie came running over the top of the hill to the Lassie theme music.

    I bawled.

  2. Ohhhhhhhh what a moving story, so beautifully written! Thank YOU!

  3. What a sweet and sad story about Emily. Fireworks are always so hard on our pets. Our dogs hate them as well.

    Thank you for commenting on my recent post. I'm glad you saw the 'potential' in the lighting. It was tricky and the pictures didn't turn out as well as I wished, but the lighting was beautiful and I did my best to capture a woodland tea.

    :) LaTeaDah

  4. Our dog is so afraid of thunder, I sink for her every time I hear it. I got a sinking feeling this weekend when my root canal didn't work. I didn't have the energy to Scribble about it.

  5. THanks Shelby.
    RP: I am like you and probably couldn't have written it if she had died.
    Welcome Redness and thanks for the comment.
    LaTeaDah: Thanks for the comment and yes, the lighting was beautiful.
    Colleen: I just sunk thinking about the root canal. What pain. Get better soon.

  6. You've reminded me of Lady; our dog from the pound. My five year old picked her out "because she was sad". She had her skidish moments but became such a part of our family. She passed three years ago and we still talk about her. Sometimes we need those pound dogs as much or more than they need us.

    Thanks for the reminder.

  7. I remember that story about missing Emily. I'm glad you wrote about her. She was such a wonderful dog, and we all miss her very much.

  8. What a poignant take on the prompt. Those 'gut instincts' are so often the ones we should listen, too - yet they're all too easy to dismiss, till hindsight proves them right.
    I'm glad Emily came back to you that next morning, and that the two of you enjoyed more time together.

  9. We have a dog from the Kootenai County Humane Society! Bob Barker, The Venerated Elder of The Chow Nation, came to us from the same place your Emily came to you. He is still plugging along, at about 20 years old, or so. RIP Emily.

  10. A touching post! Reminds me of my German Shepherd who weighed near 80 pounds, ran from brooms and wanted to sit on my lap during thunder and fireworks. She's been gone for twenty years but my throat still clogs when those memories surface.

  11. Hope: I agree. I didn't know if I would be able to go to the humane society and adopt, because I thought it would be too sad. It wasn't and I think rescued dogs always know they have been saved and appreciate us a bit more!
    svg: I miss her also... writing this piece reminded me of the good things I loved.
    You are right Tinker... I learned a lesson about gut feelings.
    That is amazing JBelle. I hope I have a dog that lives to be twenty!
    TW: Our dogs have that pull on our emotions don't they? I am glad I have two more dogs now.

  12. I was on the edge of my seat reading this. I was heartsick to hear of your loss. I said farewell to my 17yr old lab, Manny last Nov. They are so special!

  13. Dogs are like children in their emotional dependency. She may have been trying to find you, and ran too far from home to get back in one day. I am glad she found her way back.

  14. What a lovely memory of a wonderful dog. We never do get over missing them, do we?

  15. Thanks to all of you for your kinds words.
    Tammy: I am sorry about Manny and all of them are special!
    PIMD: I think that exactly what happened. I am just glad she found her way home.
    Molly: We never do.


I always enjoy reading comments!