Our first West Villages Short Story contest concluded at the end of June and it proved what we suspected: West Villages residents adore their pets and many of you are great writers, too. Thank you to all of those who took the time to share your beautiful stories about the animals that mean so much to you.
Because tension makes for great storytelling, almost all of your short stories were about dogs behaving badly and then later redeeming themselves. It was a tough task, but we selected several of the best short stories and posted them here for all to enjoy.
Below, please find our winning entry by Susi Ruettimann of Grand Palm. Her sweet, action-packed story won our hearts, takes place right here in West Villages and shows the community camaraderie many enjoy here.
By Susi Ruettimann
One of the greatest things about living in any of the West Villages communities is that there’s ALWAYS something going on. Whether it’s dance lessons, water aerobics, pickleball or community coffees, there’s never a dull moment.
Unfortunately, our wonder-dog Miss Goosie caught wind of this very quickly. She decided she needed to be part of the activities, too, and arranged her very own Girl’s Night Out. And what began as a party of one quickly escalated to a party of many, right here in Grand Palm …
It all began when my husband, Danny, took Goosie for a ride through the neighborhood this past January (I mean, what dog doesn’t love a good car ride?!). When they got home, Danny neglected to notice a bunny in our yard so the minute he opened the car door, Goosie bolted after it. Goosie is a border collie, and she can run like the wind with no effort. But if you put a bunny in front of her, she’s faster than the speed of light.
This was around 6:30 p.m. and it was getting dark. I heard Danny yell for Goosie so I dashed outside to see him running down the street. We’re from Kansas and Goosie once jumped our 6’ fence to chase a squirrel (while we sat on the patio watching her). Before we moved to Florida, we agreed that Goosie could NEVER get loose here – because if she did, she’d be dead. She’s a smart pup – but we knew the alligators, coyotes, wild boars and/or snakes would get the best of her.
I immediately posted on our neighborhood Facebook sites and NextDoor, asking folks to please look out for her. Danny got on his bike so he could look for her off-road, and I hopped in my car. Before I knew it, I was passing other slow cars driving all throughout the neighborhood, down Center Road, and through the cemetery. You name it, folks were looking by foot, car, bike and golf cart in the dark. And it was during that time when it was COLD (40º), even by non-Florida standards.
I’m not exaggerating when I say at least 40 cars were on the road looking for our crazy pup. If you stood anywhere and just listened, you could hear “Goosie” being yelled in the distance.
This went on till after 1 a.m. Our hearts were broken because we knew we wouldn’t be able to find a black dog (who apparently didn’t want to be found) in the dark. Around 2:30 a.m., we decided to call it a night and start again at sunrise. Our neighbors has all left their porch and lanai lights on – and one suggested I place her beds near the front and back doors so she could find her scent.
When we finally decided to get some sleep, we did one last check – and lo and behold, Miss Goosie came trotting up to our front door. We literally watched her prance up to it and sit her butt on her bed. I swear the look on her face said, “Yo yo YO – what’s for dinner?”
Danny, Goosie and I moved to Florida a little over a year ago. I had never even been to Venice before moving here and neither one of us knew a single soul. From the minute we moved to Grand Palm, we’ve loved it. Not just here but everywhere we’ve met so many kind, big -hearted people. And we’ve made good friends quicker than we ever imagined possible.
But that night touched our hearts like no other. While we were devastated … we couldn’t help but feel grateful. It truly was magical to watch the neighborhood pull together to look for a dog that many didn’t even know. It was comforting to know that even though we didn’t have blood family here in Florida, we had FR-amily (friends who are like family).
Miss Goosie gave us all a big scare. She came home smelling like putrified fish and was COVERED in burrs and mud. But her antics have made our FR-amily bigger, and our hearts fuller. Our four-legged kids have a way of doing that, don’t they?
Next time, we hope she does it in a less harrowing way! This fur-mom doesn’t need any more gray hair!