Morning is here. No sign. She’s been missing a full day now. The house is a tomb. I can’t find the gumption to even make coffee. I sit in a chair with my head between my hands.

My dog ran away. I feel like someone kicked me in the ribs.

It wasn’t anyone’s fault. It happened earlier. I got home to see the front door swinging in the wind. Maybe it didn’t latch.

I called Ellie Mae’s name, then listened for the sound of paws on pavement. Nothing. She’ll come back, I’m thinking.

Three hours: I am sick.

Three hours, she could be anywhere. She could be across the county line. She could have wandered onto a busy highway.

“Stay calm,” I’m telling myself. Dry insanity sets in. I’m imagining bad things. Like what happened to my old dog, Joe.

Years ago, Joe dug a hole under our fence. We drove, searching until we couldn’t. I remember seeing his body after the accident. You can’t unsee something like that.

So the sun is setting. The orange sky is turning into night. My best friend is gone.

I’m searching side streets, back roads, dirt trails. I’m praying under my breath. We knock on doors. We call the sheriff, neighbors, shelters.

“Ellie Mae!” my wife shouts into the woods, until her voice sounds like pleading.

It’s late. We’re hoarse. Eight hours she’s been missing.

We give up. We pull into our driveway. We’re silent. I skip supper. I crawl into bed with my clothes on, but can’t sleep.

I toss and turn. I think about when I took Ellie Mae fishing and my boat motor gave out. I swam the boat to shore. She swam beside me.

There was the time she stole a pecan pie from my neighbor’s backyard deck. She ate the pie and the tin foil together. The foil made a reappearance the next morning.

And the time my wife brought Ellie home. She was just floppy skin and bones. Her ears were a mile long. She tackled me and fell asleep, snoring on my chest.

Her snoring has been the sound I sleep by.

Morning is here. No sign. She’s been missing a full day now. The house is a tomb. I can’t find the gumption to even make coffee. I sit in a chair with my head between my hands.

My wife prints flyers. “Lost Dog,” they read.

I think I’m going to be sick.

Ellie’s photo is on it. I took that picture last year. We were in Mississippi, for my birthday vacation. She was on the porch. It was a pretty picture.

More driving. We stick posters to telephone poles, stop signs, trees, front doors, mailboxes, windshields.

I see a woman walking her dog. “Have you seen a dog?” we ask.

No luck.

We hike through the woods. We shout. We wander through an apartment complex.

There’s a sheriff deputy, sitting in his cruiser. My wife raps on his window. She asks if he’s seen any hounds.

“Sorry,” he says.

Sorry. That’s exactly what I’m feeling. I’m sorry I failed you, Ellie Mae, wherever you are. You trusted me, and I let you down. If you can hear me, girl, I’m sorry.

We’re riding streets again. Driving. Driving. More driving. I’m starting to see things. I see movement in the woods. Maybe it’s her. No. Just a shadow. This is ridiculous.

I pull over. We’re silent. There’s nothing to say. Nothing to do. She’s gone. She’s really gone.

Our phone rings.

My wife answers. Her face breaks. She’s crying.

“OH, THANK GOD SHE’S OKAY!” she says.

Someone found my baby.


  1. Sandi in FL - January 15, 2018 8:05 am

    I’m so thankful this story has a happy ending. Ellie Max, please don’t put Sean and Jamie through such sleepless worry again!

  2. Jean O’Neal - January 15, 2018 8:08 am


  3. Angie Long - January 15, 2018 8:56 am

    Oh, gosh, I was about to cry myself reading the post. I know how heartsick you feel at times like this. So grateful that hound dog is fine!!

  4. Angie Long - January 15, 2018 9:05 am

    And . . . I used the wrong gmail account first time around, so let me try this again. So happy your sweet hound dog is OK! Almost started crying before I made it through the post. Hubby and I have felt your pain in the past.

  5. CKD - January 15, 2018 10:32 am

    I am so happy someone found Ellie Mae! Please tell us about your reunion.
    Our sweet dog wandered off one time, and I remember the anxiety and fear like it was yesterday. We found her across a busy street, lounging in someone’s front yard. When she saw our car she ran to it, and we were more than happy to open the door and receive her kisses.

  6. Kelly - January 15, 2018 11:40 am

    I am so thankful an angel found Ellie Mae! I can fully imagine your crazy insanity not knowing where she was. My Lab is snoring right beside me now and there’s not a more peaceful sound.

  7. Connie - January 15, 2018 11:51 am

    I was sitting here with my heart in my throat until the final sentence. I know that feeling. I remember too well the feeling of losing a dog who thought he was Houdini. That story didn’t end happily. These two that are asleep in my lap right now while I put off waking up are escape artists too. Thank God we’ve always found them, but walking the streets, screaming and pleading and terrified looking for them is something you don’t get over. I am so thankful your Ellie Mae is safe.

  8. Sandra Smith - January 15, 2018 12:41 pm

    It’s the worse feeling in the world, isn’t it ?
    Thank God she’s home. ❤

  9. Shirley Brown - January 15, 2018 1:07 pm

    So happy you found your baby! It seems like I exist solely for Grace, my cat. She leads me to bed, gets me out of bed, makes me work around her eating schedule but crawls on top of me or next to me to nap or have her head scratched. I lose sleep but then I get so much love in return. Who am I to complain? No amount of money or material goods could replace her.

  10. Nancy - January 15, 2018 1:23 pm

    Must be a coon hound thing … my black & tan, Buford, pulled the same stunt four years ago. Gone overnight. Sick with worry. A friend told me, “He’s a hound, he’ll come back.” And sure enough, he did. He’s snoring at my feet now. Wouldn’t trade him for anything.

  11. Cathi - January 15, 2018 1:32 pm

    Thank the good Lord Ellie Mae is back home with her humans!

  12. Steven P Bailey - January 15, 2018 1:41 pm

    Love your writing.

  13. Joan - January 15, 2018 2:34 pm

    I am currently reading and enjoying your book, On The Road, which features a handsome photo of you and Ellie Mae on the back cover. So glad she is back.

  14. Beki Denison - January 15, 2018 2:35 pm

    Not even gonna lie—after I read the first few paragraphs I skipped down to the end to make sure you found her. Just don’t think I could handle reading the whole thing this Monday morning to find out Ellie Mae was gone for good. And I was holding my breath the whole time. WHEW!! Relief! Glad she’s home!!

  15. Sarah - January 15, 2018 2:36 pm

    Thank you Lord!!!! So glad you got your dog back. I can’t imagine the loss:( My dog is my best friend.

  16. Sheila Clark - January 15, 2018 2:48 pm

    Thank God you found her!!! We have a bloodhound puppy, Tank. Put a chip in him just Incase he got loose. Just goes to show that these noses will get them into all kinds of trouble. So glad your girl is home!!!!

  17. Jo - January 15, 2018 2:52 pm

    Oh my gosh – you described every pet owner’s nightmare. Fortunately none of ours ever were gone for more than a few hours. It was always so good seeing them when they showed back up. In spite of the dirt, smells, and sometimes blood from a fight with barbed wire. I am very glad that Ellie Mae was found!

  18. sandysewwhatever - January 15, 2018 2:55 pm

    Oh my! I am so glad someone found her. Hope you all have some wonderfully snoring sleep to night.

  19. Laura - January 15, 2018 3:05 pm

    I remember such searches well- our Brandy, my son’s dog disappeared one day. Driving and praying. I am so glad Brandy was found and so happy Ellie Mae was found and is okay! It amazes me how close we are to our pets. Once when I was keeping watch on my brother’s hound, Sophie, She jerked the leash from my hand and ran into the woods. She would not answer or return. (She was not obedient in any way). I was so mad; it was raining; I was in my PJs. I had thoughts of the coyotes getting her like the occasional deer I found mutilated by the coyotes. Then I heard heard her baying and found her with the leash tangled in the underbrush of a huge privet bush. I wanted to strangle her but cried with joy. And she wasn’t even my dog.

  20. Nancy S. Jones - January 15, 2018 3:05 pm

    One of the BEST yet!! Been there!

  21. Joe Murray - January 15, 2018 3:07 pm

    Your stories make an old retired newspaperman proud.

  22. Brenda - January 15, 2018 3:25 pm

    I am so glad this had a happy ending. I look forward to your blogs each day and see myself in a lot of them. They have been a source of joy and comfort in some of my darkest days. You have a tremendous gift of putting words into motion and they inspire me to be better, kinder and thankful for every day God has given me. Thank you.

  23. Frances Jones - January 15, 2018 3:26 pm

    Oh Sean, I am SOOO glad you found her!!! Thank God!!! I know that empty, crushing feeling all too well. God bless you and your baby.
    If you are ever in Virginia please come for a visit. My husband and I do animal rescue and would love to have you meet our rescue kids.

  24. Pamela Verbel - January 15, 2018 3:40 pm

    Love a happy ending!

  25. janiesjottings - January 15, 2018 4:03 pm

    I am so glad your Ellie Mae is safe and back with you. My uncle has only been a real dog lover since he was about sixty. He’s always been the biggest, strongest man in my life. But he got a little Terrier and fell in love. Smoky was his best buddy for several years. When Smoky passed away my uncle was pitiful. He has a new dog now and is in love with him but he still talks about Smoky all the time.

  26. Summer Hartzog - January 15, 2018 4:04 pm

    Thank God! I know she was happy to be home, too! Blessings to you all.

  27. Pat Byers - January 15, 2018 4:51 pm

    I don’t think I even breathed until the sentence…our phone rings. i felt the same dread you did. you know, all of us love EllieMae as much as you do.

  28. jack - January 15, 2018 5:06 pm

    Awww, Shucks!! I like it!!!

  29. william vessier - January 15, 2018 5:43 pm

    This one surely caused me to tear up!!!!

  30. Amber - January 15, 2018 5:44 pm

    I feel like Ellie Mae is part of my family. I had to give up my dog 5 years ago & I still miss her. Like you, she was my baby.

    It turned out to be a God thing. I battled cancer later that year. It’s nice to know she’s running on five acres on a happy home. But my heart breaks that I didn’t have such a home to give her.

    Give Ellie Mae special loves from Amber & perhaps a pecan pie sans tin foil.

  31. Pamela McEachern - January 15, 2018 5:53 pm

    I have never had a human child, but my 4 legged babies are my heart. I too have had those anxious times when they have gone missing but I had the blessing of them returning too. So happy some angel found that baby girl!
    Peace and Love from Birmingham

    • Melanie Tighe - January 16, 2018 1:26 am

      To Pamela- same here. I am 61 years old and they have always been and will always be my ‘children’. ?

      • Pamela McEachern - January 16, 2018 4:52 am

        Dear Melanie you understand me and I really can’t imagine any better love than the love I have from these sweet babies. Blessings to you and yours

  32. muthahun - January 15, 2018 5:58 pm

    Oh Jeez, Sean, it’s a good thing you didn’t tell us this yesterday or I wouldn’t’ve slept either. SO glad she’s home safe… the joys of having a scent hound. Mags and Woodrow are, I’m sure, slightly jealous. I’ll be relieved right along with you and your honey.

  33. Pat Irvin - January 15, 2018 5:59 pm

    I had to read ahead… I couldn’t stand it. Whew…

  34. Kathy Dunn - January 15, 2018 6:36 pm

    The moment that read your Ellie Mae was missing I started praying and scrolled to the end of your post and thanked God that she had been found. My heart could not take another moment to keep reading, I did go back and read it, your post and I can’t imagine what you went through during the time she was lost. Some people don’t understand the bond we have with our four legged fur children but you know that’s their problem. Hardest thing I ever did was saying goodbye last July to my 16 1/2 yr old rescued Chihuahua Daisy. She had battled CHF and kidney failure and she let me know it was her time. God blessed me with the last 3 1/2 years of her life and it was best of 3 1/2 years of my life. Yup, they fill your heart when they’re with you, but when they’re gone a huge, huge part of your heart is ripped out forever. Give Ellie Mae an extra hug for me today.

  35. Pat - January 15, 2018 8:04 pm

    Wonderful story with a happy ending. We just experienced this about a month ago. As it all turned out she was under the house, probably chasing the cat or a possum. It was dark and we looked all over for her to no avail. I went back to the kitchen (which was at the other end of the house from the opening of the crawl space). I kept hearing low moaning and ran outside but no fur baby to be found. I just thought I was hearing things that were not there. My husband had gone to the opening and shined a light, but nothing. I kept hearing the crying but it got louder. I then realized that she was under the house! I went outside and was trying to plug in a flood light when I noticed something moving out of the corner of my eye and thank God it was my baby! It was total darkness under the house and I’m sure she didn’t how to get out until my husband left a light on. I certainly saw a sermon in that experience!

  36. Jovita - January 15, 2018 9:04 pm

    So glad you found your Ellie Mae ! Give her lots of hugs and a special treat! I have furbabies too,
    They’re like real babies – have one dog who loves to run away on cool days … one day he was gone two days caught ina coyote trap he was! Thought it was a crate to sleep in – he’s ten now and still have to watch out he doesn’t run on those cool days ❤️
    So so glad your baby is home ?❤️?❤️

  37. Jonathan Jones - January 15, 2018 11:58 pm

  38. Susan Barfield - January 16, 2018 1:10 am

    Oh thank you, God!!!

  39. Melanie Tighe - January 16, 2018 1:23 am

    I know how this feels. I am so glad she is OK because I am counting on meeting her someday at one of your appearances in AL. ❤️

  40. Linda Chipman - January 16, 2018 10:05 pm

    So glad you got her back.

  41. Nedetria - January 16, 2018 10:21 pm

    Praise God Ellie Mae is found!!!!

  42. Barbara Schweck - January 17, 2018 5:41 am

    I have to confess that I skipped to the end to see if you found her!! Praise God that some good soul found her and called you. A man (or woman) can not be without a good dog!!!

  43. Judy Riley - January 17, 2018 7:26 pm

    Sean, I wouldn’t be surprised if you received more comments on this post than any in a long time. Just shows how we humans love our family pets. Thank God you have your Ellie Mae back. You mention her so much…sometime I think I smell her scent. You also mention your Daddy so often I feel I know him, he reminds me of my father who also died at an early age. My heart hurts for you…..

    I saw you last night at Marianna Baptist Church. You had everyone at your first words….what a fun, enjoyable Godly personna you have..Thank you from the BnB lady. (Loved your singing too!)

  44. Larry Bryant - April 8, 2018 12:23 pm

    About 6 years ago two of my Brittany Spaniels decided to go for a walkabout! I lived in the panhandle of Florida where there are thick pine forest spotted with fields of cotton and peanuts.I also hollered for what seem hours to no avail then being a pilot and worried sick for my best friends,I jumped in my airplane and proceeded to slow flight over the area searching as best as I could! After burning a full tank of fuel and my eyes watering from straining to find them I decided darkness was coming and I could do no more. The next morning I walked down my driveway and they were coming down the road muddy and wet like what’s the big deal? Never have I been so relieved and happy! Amazing what we do for our companion!

  45. Rhonda - April 8, 2018 3:25 pm

    Not long after I brought my rescued MinPin home, after I had fallen madly in love with her, she decided to go roaming. I frantically searched for her but couldn’t find her. Throughout that day, I would go out and search for her and when I couldn’t find her I’d come home and cry. About the 5th time I went looking and the 5th time I came back home to cry, there she was on the front porch as if nothing ever happened. We’ve had a couple more instances like this in the 4 years I’ve had the privilege of her being in my life and every time I come home to cry, there she sits, waiting for ME to come home!

  46. WB Henley - April 8, 2018 4:30 pm

    Been on both sides of the possible outcomes. It’s amazing the wild imaginings your mind takes you through during those lost hours. I’m glad Ellie Mae returned unharmed!

  47. Lawana Griffin - April 8, 2018 5:07 pm

    Whew!! I guess if we’ve ever loved a dog we have felt that absolutely terrible feeling of quilt ,because we are supposed to take care of them. So glad you found her or she found you ???

    • Lawana Griffin - April 8, 2018 5:08 pm

      Guilt not quilt ?


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