Something of a nightmare weekend : foster dog Amber managed to get out of the garden, panicked and ranShe is a nervy girl, and I don't think she had quite decided she wanted to trust philmophlegm, who had let her out for a pee. And then he quite understandably panicked when he saw her squeeze under the gate, shouted and ran after her. I think probably that made things worse, particularly as Brythen then went after her too. It's really hard to let go of the instinct to run after an escaping animal, but unless the escaping animal is, I dunno, a disabled rabbit or something, you have to force yourself to just stop. If you run, they run, and four legs trumps two pretty much every time.
So this was very bad. It wasn't as if one of my own dogs had got out - they know the area, they know where they live and they would come to us if they heard us calling (in fact Brythen did go after her, but he came back within a few minutes) Amber didn't know the area, was very scared and we weren't sure she would even want to come to us.
So then we had hours of walking in circles searching for her. Several people had seen her running along the lanes - it didn't seem to occur to her to go into a field, fortunately. Philmophlegm produced a pile of 'have you seen this dog' posters that we pinned to everything and handed out to everyone we saw, but since she got out at about 4pm, and the light was going, the search was quite difficult. The pile of posters was exactly the right approach though - we had several people phone through sightings of her which meant we were looking in roughly the right area - although it was a git of an area to search. Old mine buildings, tiny smallholdings, about a million barns, farms where it appeared that people had just been shoving junk in sheds since roughly 1400 and then when the shed got full they shoved up another one next to it and went on...
I think we must have just missed her a couple of times. Of course it was a freezing night, just to add to the worry, although at least we had no snow here. I phoned the Oldies Club and they got a notification onto Facebook and Dog Lost - thanks to those who shared that.
We started again in the morning - I'd had an offer from someone who owns a team of bloodhounds that are trained to find lost dogs to come and help look (!) but we needed a fresh scent for that to work. Pp drove around looking and postering, and I walked with the other dogs - hoping that if she smelt Chloe, Amber would either come to us, or would follow her trail back towards the house. Despite Chloe being 12 and podgy, and Az's wobbly legs,we walked for about two hours (I was very proud of Az doing so well). But absolutely no luck. So we came back to the house because the old dogs had had enough, and in the faint hope she might have found her way home.
She hadn't, but just as I put the kettle on, we had another call - someone had just seen her from his car, and then had stopped for petrol and seen the poster, and noble soul that he was, he took the time to call us. So we grabbed poor Chloe, who must have been pretty tired by this time, but was still shambling willingly along, leapt in the car, and there Amber was, sitting by the side of the road looking worn out. She bolted when we pulled up next to her, but thankfully, only into a nearby garden, where Pp spotted her. So I went in with Chloe, while Pp made hopeful noises with a metal dish and a fork. When she saw us, there was a moment of panic as she tried to work out how to get past us and run away - and then she recognised us, and came over and leaned against my legs. I have rarely been more relieved.
Amber was very, very tired and stiff - I think she must have run for about 4-5 miles, her paws were cut from running on ice and she was very thirsty, as most water was frozen. But after a couple of nights in the warm, she is feeling much better now. She seems much more relaxed, and I think probably would not run again even if she got the chance - not that I am inclined to test this.