A dramatic title no?
Well that was how we felt this time last week.
Our dog went missing
About 8 PM on Friday night he went out into the back garden and didn't some back. After about 20 minutes I realised he hadn't yet scraped at the door to be let back in - and as it was was a chilly night that was a surprise.
I went out to have a look and found that the side gate was unlatched and the Ben was GONE.
Now, it is difficult enough to find a dog that has a potential 20 minute start - which direction did he go?. But when the dog in question is black and it is pitch dark it is even more difficult.
Still out we went, we walked all the close roads, then switched to the cars and drove the further roads. No sign. We searched til midnight and then reluctantly decided that we would have to go home and hope that the silly mutt would find his way back. We barely slept, partly because we were worried about the dog and partly because we left the back door open so that if he did come home he could get in and it was freezing.
I lay in bed listening to the howling wind and the rain and panicking about how I was going totell the kids that the dog was gone - possibly for good - he has never been away for more than a couple of hours.
We were up again at first light and back out looking for him. Still no sign.
I phoned the local animal shelter, I phoned Animal Aid ( another local animal charity) I informed the police and I asked both local radio stations to put out "lost dog" notices.
By 8 AM I was on the verge of tears. Ben is about 12 years old, partly blind, pretty stupid and very timid. He had been missing for 12 hours and I was starting to fear the worst.
Then the phone rang. It was a lady who lives on the other side of the hill - not 500 yds form my house as the crow flies. She had found him! Wandering in circles in her front garden when she opened her curtains.
We dashed up the road to collect him - taking a large bunch of flowers for the lady in question. He was very tired, filthy - I think he must have found a stable to sleep in because he stank of horse manure - and his feathers were full of brambles and twigs.
The minute we got him in the door and had removed the worst of the debris with the aid of a pair of scissors and a lot of distraction methods ( he hates being groomed) he hopped up onto the sofa, stretched out and went to sleep.
I didn't have the heart to wake him up for a bath - it had to wait til the next day.
I'm glad to say that he is fine. I think we were in a worst state than him. Within 24 hours he was back to his usual bouncy self - I'm not sure we will ever recover :-)
Every time I let him out I'm subconsciously checking the side gate - it will be a long time before I stop.
Have a good week.