This one is called Hannibal’s Great Escape. Starring, Hanni, his groomer, most of our immediate family, half of Fulton county and Facebook. So, Hanni was in need of a haircut and was scheduled for one with his usual groomer. Now, a little backstory, Hannibal is a big guy at around 85 pounds, his groomer is a tiny woman who probably doesn’t weigh much more than he does, but Hanni is always a sweet, gentle guy and doesn’t give her any trouble. He and his groomer had a really good relationship and often, once he was done with his haircut, she would take him out for a short walk down the street. The same thing happened on this particular day. He got his bath, brush and trim, then they started their usual walk down the street to the groomer’s mother’s house. Somewhere along the way, poor Hanni got stung by a bee. He jerked his leash so hard when he was stung that the groomer was knocked to the ground ( remember he is the size of a small pony and she is tiny). He got scared and bolted away from her then and she was unable to catch him. Her home is on the edge of Canton and Canton is surrounded by strip mine land, some of which has been rented out to cattle farmers and some of which the mines still own. In his haste to get away from the horrible tiny creature who stung him, Hannibal ran out of town and into the mine grounds. For anyone who lives out there in Fulton county, you know that this is a LOT of ground with lakes, woods, fields, cow pastures etc. There is also a highway running right through the area, which people spotted Hanni crossing several times.
The groomer calls my mom frantic and upset, telling her what happened and apologizing profusely. She feels terrible that he got stung and even worse that he got away from her and could be in danger. I have to hand it to our Fulton County neighbors and to the FB volunteers who kept us continuously up to date with sightings of our guy throughout the day, and to those who actively came out and searched for this goofy dood. We caught sight of Hanni several times through the next 7 hours but each time he seemed like he didn’t know who we were and would run away. At first we thought he was just afraid he was in trouble but as the day wore on we realized he was just really that disoriented and scared. He was completely in flight mode at that point.
We walked miles of mine ground, cow pastures, had UTVs out searching for him and herding him back in our direction. All to no avail. Mom was losing hope that we would catch him, the afternoon was starting to fade into evening and we knew if we didn’t get him before dark this would turn into a sleepless night and another search in the morning. We were all scared he would run onto the highway in the dark and get flattened by a car, or that he would run across coyotes during the night. He’s a big guy but no match for a whole pack. Finally after hearing him howling so sadly a few yards away from us and losing him again, Mom had the idea to have Dad drive home and get Bella, one of Hannibal’s best dog friends at the time. The next time we came up on him and sighted him we very slowly spread out and started to make a circle around him, We had Bethany trying to talk to him and coax him closer while mom brought Bella down from the car. He was still extremely wary of us all until he got wind of Bella. Suddenly it was like you could see the lightbulb go on and Hanni was back, wiggling and wagging, so happy to see his friend and so happy to be safe. There were some tears and hugs and everyone went home tired but thankful for the outcome of the day.