Certain moments in life can make you realise how things can turn in an instant and change from ordinary to disaster within a heart beat. On the 22 December I had one of those such moments:
We had been asked by a friend of a friend if we would consider rehoming their German Shepherd. We were a little reluctant at first due to having 3 dogs already (one of which is very old and in need of quite a bit of care) and also because money is tight. But after a discussion and meeting with them we realised he is a good dog and could well fit within our existing pack. It turned out the current owners had only owned him for a month having adopted him after his original owner from a housing estate area decided he didn't want him. As we stood in the middle of the farm with chickens strutting around we were told of how he seemed unable to leave the birds alone and how he just did not seem to bond with the farmer but he was quite attached to his wife who was a quieter soul. After watching his behaviour and taking heed of the situation we decided the dog was fine and just needed a more appropriate home where he could settle and where we would have more time to spend with him.
After picking him up on the 22 December we spent a little time walking him and socialising with our adopted Boarder Collie, who can be a little touchy with other dogs. As evening fell I took him for a walk on the lead to a local wood and he seemed to be settling. It was only as I returned home and tried to get him out of the back of the car that things went wrong. As I opened the boot he bolted, shot through my grasp and raced off into the night. It was the proverbial "oh sh!t" moment. I followed as quickly as I could but he had gone. I began search by foot and car while my good lady began making contact with the local police, dog wardens and the dog lost website.
Over the next few days we received only sketchy sightings and promises from dog walkers and local businesses of their willingness to keep an eye open for him. In three and a half days I went no further than 15 miles from our hovel but I covered more than 500 miles by car and on foot. Christmas day was spent searching the housing and industrial estates near his first owners home. It was as we returned home in the early hours of boxing day my mobile rang. A vets in Lincoln had had a dog brought in and after catching up on their Christmas e-mails and seeing the dog lost website realised there was a good chance he might be our new boy.
We leapt back into the car and headed round to them. It was him, he lay in a kennel with a broken leg and clearly confused but delighted to be getting some fuss from the vets and ourselves. He had been hit by a car in a near by village. The driver had not stopped and after crawling into a garden the home owner had found him and contacted the RSPCA. After reassuring the vets he would be looked after we returned home with him.
The following days brought about anger and frustration of the highest order, as we had only owned him for a few hours before he went missing and had not had the chance to sort out insurance we tried to get him treated with the PDSA and the Blue Cross. Both told us they were sorry but because we were out of their catchment area and not receiving housing benefits they were not willing to treat him. We had contributed to both these charities (especially the PDSA, who my good lady had made regular monthly donations for many years) and felt badly let down by them. No doubt the CEOs of the charities still enjoyed a good wage far in excess of our own, so we decided to cancel our contributions and refrain from assisting them in any way in the future. Our own vet managed to make contact with a well respected and reasonable vet surgeon who could carry out the surgery for us so we decided to drive him the hour and a half to the clinic and scratch together the payment rather than prolong his suffering any further.
He is now sleeping outside the bedroom door and is settling in. I am left reflecting on the people I have come into contact with over the festive season. The from the wonderful local businesses, individuals and the splendid www.doglost.co.uk down to the pen pushing established charities who claim to be there to support the animals and their owners in times of need.
I would like to say a special thank you to the people on twitter who have given us encouragement and spared a tweet or two to raise awareness (thank you Di, Jess, Winterette, Craig, Binnie, Pandora, Joanna, Jocelyn & KT).