locked me out of the house. Although technically I wasn't really locked out because I have a spare key for just this purpose. But yesterday afternoon, while Jeff was in San Francisco getting ready for a work event, I actually did lose Moe.
The weather was beautiful and the kids were full of toddler energy, so we went to the backyard to play. Generally, Moe explores the perimeter of the yard, following a self-made path behind the plants, peeking through the knots in the fence. Sometimes, he'll pop into the playhouse. The plantings aren't particularly dense, and I can see the whole yard from pretty much any spot in it. Occasionally, I'll lose sight of one of the kids, but that generally means they are inside or right behind the playhouse in the back corner of the yard, under the grapefruit tree.
Jelly had brought me the bubbles and we were sitting on the patio blowing bubbles while Moe was running around. After a minute or so, I looked up and couldn't see Moe. I called his name, not expecting him to come running, but he usually doesn't stay still for long. I couldn't see or hear him, so I started toward the playhouse, mostly to make sure he wasn't eating dirt. That is when I saw a large gap in the fence that separates our yard from the neighbor's. I ran.
I peered through and there was Moe, in our neighbor's yard. He hadn't gotten far. Fortunately, I could fit through the gap and ran to grab him. Though I'm pretty sure at that moment I could have torn down the fence with my bare hands if I had needed to. Then, always there to make things just a little more difficult, the dog followed me through the fence. I put Moe back through to our side, climbed through myself, and called the dog. Berkeley does have a pretty good recall, though I did say "want a treat?" just to be sure she'd come. I know our neighbors have a dog as well, and the last thing I needed was for Berkeley to start a fight with their dog, in their yard.
All's well that ends well, I suppose, but my heart has never raced so fast. After getting the kids back into the house, I was shaking. I have no idea if the neighbor's yard is fully fenced or if Moe could have gotten out to the street. I don't know if their dog is friendly toward children. My worst fear is that Moe will run off, and we are so careful when we are out, never letting go of his hand for a second. If Moe did get lost, even out of our own yard, he can't say his own name, has no fear of the street, would jump right into a swimming pool, and would never know how to get back home.
We've patched the fence temporarily just so the dog can't go through and will talk to the neighbors this week about getting it repaired (it is a shared fence). I've also heard about bracelets made for kids with autism or other special needs, in case they get lost. It wouldn't keep Moe safe from the street but would at least help someone get him home to me.
Note: Here is one bracelet, though I'm going to do more research to find other options as well: Child ID Bracelet.