By: Wendy Orrison
Head Field Hockey Coach

The Odyssey is often required reading in either ninth or 10th grade.  When I taught freshmen English in the 90’s, I taught the epic poem and Kate Stavish (Field hockey assistant) is currently teaching The Odyssey to her ninth grade students at Rockbridge County High School.  It is a wonderful story of a King who uses his guile to return home to his wife and son. It takes him 10 years to return home to Ithaca where his wife, Penelope, is fighting off the many suitors who assume that Odysseus in dead.

We have a dog whose name is Odac; yes, in tribute to the ODAC conference.  The field hockey team at Hollins (I coached there) named her.    I can still remember the fall day 13 years ago that I went to the Roanoke SPCA to pick out my dog, the first for me as an adult. I picked her to be my dog because she was friendly but not in my face.  I don’t like dogs that lick and jump and need lots of attention.  (I don’t really like people like that either.) She turned out to be most independent, bordering on aloof.  We call her our cat dog.  She prefers to sleep outside even in the winter months.  She doesn’t like dog treats or being brushed and will only stand for human attention for a limited amount of time.  She has seen us through multiple other adoptions; several other dogs, some of which have come and gone, and two children.  She puts up with my children well, but moves off to seek her privacy if they want to love on her.  Her favorite spot for the past 12 years has been our side yard where she can lay and view the world below her.  She can see the whole back yard, the cow field which often has tasty groundhogs passing through, as well as the Blue Ridge Mountains in the distance.  You can also see cars as they come up the driveway, a pretty great spot to sit for humans or dogs.

Odac decided to go on her own Odyssey all last week.  Wednesday morning she was not at home.  Her new favorite spot for the past year has been the breezeway between the house and the garage; food and water are both close by with little or no effort.  It began to rain Tuesday night and we didn’t see the sun for the next 4 days.  We gave up hope on Odac.  She had never been gone for more than an afternoon and here at the age of 13 she had been gone for multiple cold, gloomy days.  We spent as much free time as we had, about twenty minutes a day, looking for our family dog.  Long walks down into the woods, into all the barns-no sign.  We got our first hard frost Sunday night/Monday morning and I gave up all hope that our old dog was alive.

Yesterday, after our fourth win in a row, we got home in the daylight and started looking.  We stopped at a neighbor’s barn and looked all around, we stopped at our hay barn and looked in drain pipes and under trees, nothing.  I got up to the house heavy hearted.  I parked in the garage and walked out to the breezeway.  Who was standing on the breezeway casually expectant of dinner?  Odac.  She looks a bit skinny but none the worse for wear.  I immediately called Gwen and Kate (hockey assistants) to let them know Odac was home.  They both have dogs, like dogs, and had been emotionally supportive of me the past week.  Kate wondered aloud what type of Odyssey Odac had experienced.  Maybe Odac didn’t go far at all and her old legs just took her three days to get there and three days to get back; I’ll never know.  I’m just glad to have my friend back.  What does this have to do with field hockey?  Not much.  I just wanted to share my happy story.  A win and my dog back in the same day, a husband and assistant coaches who are always supportive of me.  I know this isn’t as riveting as Marley and Me but hey, I’m a coach not a writer.

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