It happened. I lost Fletcher. Don’t worry, this story ends well. He is currently snoozing on my feet, but here is how the drama unfolded.
In the days leading up to the big escape Fletcher’s recall had been off. He was disappearing into the hedgerows and forest for far too long, often popping up a mile ahead. He usually runs out of sight, he is a spaniel after all, but he never goes too far and certainly not long enough to make me worry. He usually returns after I call his name, but this particular week he had me yelling at the top of my voice.
A scent had got up his nose and he was determined to find it. His nose was fixed to the ground, snuffling along. Nothing was going to stop him. And then it happened. He vanished.
It was a windy day so I decided to change our usual walking route and keep sheltered by the trees. It was a path that Fletcher knows and as he hopped through the trees into the next field I thought nothing of it. When he didn’t come back I decided to scramble through the bushes to see where he was. I spotted a little black dot in the distance, at the top of a hill, two fields away. I panicked. I ran, and I’m definitely not a runner. Thankfully, that day I had chosen sports trainers over walking boots, it’s as though I subconsciously knew something would happen.
After a lot of huffing and puffing, I reached the point where I had last seen him. Fletcher was nowhere in sight and he wasn’t responding to recall. “Ok Emma, stay calm” was my initial thought, which lasted all of 30 seconds. From where I stood I had multiple views of different fields and our usual cut through and exits. I screamed his name some more, nothing. No rustling, no jangle of his collar, only the tweet of birds.
It had been at least 10 minutes, Fletcher had never disappeared for this long. I started to imagine Fletcher’s face plastered across Facebook as one of the lost dog posts I frequently share. Or worst…maybe he had been abducted, sold as a stud or into a dog fighting ring – he wouldn’t last a minute! My whole world started to become very small. I was terrified.
I called my husband and asked him to come home from work. He told me to wait another 10 minutes. I continued to scream “Fletcher” shouting out all the things he loves; “biscuits”, “chicken”, “garden” and “swimming”. Still there was nothing.
I felt sick and dizzy with fear. Minutes turned into days and seconds into hours. Ten minutes passed, I called my husband again, at this point I was an absolute wreck. He was about to come home, when over the hill came a hot, bothered and panting Fletcher.
I was torn; should I tell him off for running away or praise him for coming back? Instead I fell to the floor and sobbed. He sat at my feet drooling looking at me with big brown eyes as if to say: “What’s the big deal? Mum, you’re so dramatic!”. Ok, maybe I did overreact, he was only gone for 30 minutes, but it’s an experience I never wish to relive again.
Safely on his lead, we returned home, where he spent the whole afternoon sleeping, it must have been a big adventure! Two days later I think I found the culprit for his escapades; a pretty black Labrador in heat!