For the Donahues, anyway!
A favorite family read-aloud, Cynthia Rylant and Mark Teague’s The Great Gracie Chase: Stop That Dog! came to life for us today as the Donahue family answered the call to help my parents find their two dogs who happened to sneak out of the backyard over the weekend.
Charlie and Penny are two adorable beagles - Charlie (black and white) and Penny (copper and white). Charlie is a hefty many pounded horse of a dog. Penny is a petite, shy puppy with a fear of strangers. We loaded up into the car, with our visiting paperthin friend, Flat Stanley, tagging along. I took a picture of him before we strapped him into his seatbelt.
We have nicknamed Stanley as “Eagle Eyes!” He spotted the dogs first, not far from my parent’s neighborhood. We pulled over, jumped out of the car and tried sneaking up on the dogs. Charlie was the first to spot us. After being loose for two days, he simply looked up and saw my dad’s face and fell over on his side, as if to say, “What took you so long?”
Penny, on the other hand, heard all the commotion, saw the Wild Donahues come around the corner and she SPLIT! My dad called out for us to trail her. We looked more like a comedy troop than anything. Over the river, through the woods, over and under bridges, through cow fields (freshly scented), jumping through barbwired fences and much, much more. The more we chased, the faster that poor girl ran.
I figured I had the best chance of grabbing her when she stopped by a little creek for a drink. Quietly, I snuck up behind her, taking off my jacket to wrap around her. I figured as loud as she was gulping water, she would not hear me. I was wrong. I jumped up behind her and thrust my jacket and myself right into the muddy creek. She stopped at the top of the creekbed, as if to say “I’m having such a great time. Thanks for playing with me.” It was now a mission and I was going to get that dog! Her next stop proved to be her smartest. She ran right into the briar thicket. Raspberry, blackberry, wild roses and more grow along this creek bank.
I laughed as I remembered the many Brer Rabbit stories I have shared over the years. A classroom favorite, Don’t Throw Me in the Briar Patch, came to mind as I abandoned ALL witts and raced right in to grab that dog! Flat Stanley called to me from my backpack, yelling for me to slow down. But we were so close. Scratched from head to toe, I finally emerged and then took off at another sprint. She was not slowing. Unfortunately, I realized that there was somehow a thorn attached to my middle right foot toe. I stopped to pull off my KEEN Newport Sandals and remove the thorn. In a blink, the thorn was gone but so was the dog! Again.
Several cowpies stomped (add that to my KEEN adventures!) and two hours later, The Great Gracie Chase came to my mind. I was considering how similar the book was to our adventure and started thinking…how did they figure it out in the book? Gracie wouldn’t come back, scared of all the noise and the people chasing this sweet, scared puppy.
Huffing and puffing, we stopped to re-plan and then realized that we were actually chasing her back towards my parent’s house! By way of the long cut, but she was actually headed in the right direction.
We gathered up the family and headed back to my parents for dinner. Before we headed in, we opened the gate for Penny. Just in case. I won’t spoil the book for you, but you must read this one to get the full humor of our feeble attempts.
After dinner, we packed into the car, beaten and defeated. Poor Flat Stanley was just glad to get out of the book bag. On the way home, we got a phone call. My dad said that once we all left and everything settled down, Penny had come back into the fence, crawled into her house and went to sleep. He visited with her for a bit and then locked the gate.
WOW! What a day. I just had to write this down. Tomorrow afternoon, I’m going to be reading the book, The Great Gracie Chase: Stop That Dog! with my kids once again. I think they will definitely see it in different way.