Every morning, come rain or shine, dark or light, Angela takes our three lovely Labradors out for a walk between 6:00 and 6:30 in the morning. She often claims to enjoy this thinking time, shared with her 3 best friends; other times she deserves a medal for her dedication and devotion. I occasionally think I would like to join her but the only time I go walking at 6am is in a dream. Her morning walk takes her to a big field with footpaths and a steep hill; we call it “Cow Field” for obvious reasons. Out of interest, we have names for other local dog walking landmarks such as “Cow Field 2”, “Cow Field 3”, “Shit Snicket 4”, “Mossy Snicket” & “Fleet Snicket 5”. I digress.
Last week on their morning walk, Angela endured her worst nightmare. On a wet and dark morning, she started to connect their leads ready to exit Cow Field. Olly was first, Stan was sorted out second, then, “Wait, where’s Duke? He was here a second ago.” He does have a tendency to ‘mooch around’; we sometimes call him the “Moochy Poochy”. Using a torch and attempting to backtrack to look for him, Angela became increasingly concerned. The calls grew louder before the panic set in. 15 minutes later, she took the decision to leave the field and head back home with Olly and Stan, clinging on to the faint hope that Duke would have made his own way home and he’d be sitting on the doorstep wondering what all the fuss was about.
As she reached the main road, she saw a car about 30 yards away with its hazard warning lights flashing. She feared the worst and ran to the car, only to see it drive off into the distance before she got close enough to draw any attention. They returned home, but Duke was not there on the doorstep. Utterly distraught, she burst into the house.
Meanwhile, I was still in bed. I had been awake for about 20 minutes and had been checking the BBC news website on my smartphone. About one minute before Angela came home, I had opened up my Facebook app, and there was a notification posted 22 minutes earlier from a member of a local community group. These postings usually turn out to be a complete waste of my time, but it doesn’t stop me opening them. Imagine my surprise to see Duke in his raincoat sat in the back of somebody’s car with the caption “Anybody lost a dog?” Well, that woke me up! Seconds later, Angela burst into the bedroom and before she could say anything I said “It’s OK, he’s safe”, and showed her his picture on my phone. For Angela, this was a terrifying experience. For me, I had found out he was safe before I even knew that he wasn’t!
We managed to contact the kind soul (“Bob”) who rescued him; he had taken Duke to a vet in the town centre who, in turn, scanned his chip, and the vet was also able to contact us. The power of Facebook (the post was shared over 130 times) and canine micro-chipping was more evident today to us than it ever has been. Bob told us that he had seen Duke running down the middle of the road; Duke went to meet him when he stopped and basically jumped in the back of his car, probably looking a little upset.
For the rest of the day, Duke was a little clingy, to say the least. Angela bought him a separate dog collar to use when he wears his coat, and she also purchased a bright multi-coloured beacon which can be seen from the International Space Station. Since that day, we have unintentionally met Bob walking his own dog, and Duke has taken a real liking to him.
Duke’s Version of the Story
I do like my sleep, but I also love it when my Mum takes me for a walk with my brothers first thing in the morning. One morning last week, it was chucking it down, and Mum had to put my coat on. Labs love water, but even for me, it was a bit on the damp side that day. We got to the big field, as usual, there were no cows as far as I could tell but I had to check around when I was allowed off my lead. I was investigating, partly to ensure the safety of my team, and partly to examine some of the delicious soft brown goodies which I call “Freebie Frisbees” or “Beef Patties for Dogs”. They are my breakfast supplement.
I don’t know how it happened but Mum, Olly and Stan had disappeared. I know it was dark, but they were nowhere in sight. I searched around for a little while without success; had they left me to fend for myself? Surely not. I knew Mum would be going through the main exit gate so I decided to head her off at the pass. Not counting the entrance to the field, about a third of a mile away, I remember once walking through a small alleyway as an alternative way to exit the field. I made it onto the road and gently jogged down the middle. In the map below, the red route is where we generally walk; the white route tracked my journey.
There were some headlights behind me, so I stopped, was it my Dad’s car? Unfortunately, it wasn’t, but on the plus side I made a new friend who introduced himself as “Bob”. He looked like a nice man so I figured he would probably take me home; assuming this, I jumped straight into his back seat with my wet, muddy paws and posed for him to take a photograph of me. There were some flashing lights on his dashboard, I remember thinking it was a bit early in the morning for a disco.
Bob didn’t take me home, but he looked after me and took me to a place where someone in a white coat brushed the back of my neck with some kind of magic wand. He sat with me for 20 minutes and then I saw Mum and Dad walk through the door. They seemed really pleased to see me, but I don’t honestly know what all the fuss was about. I think I received a ‘telling off’ for about 15 seconds before they took me back home and treated me like a hero. I’m not sure what I did to deserve it, but I’m not complaining!