Lost Dog Sky

Sky, our beloved Black Labrador, went missing on 1st December 2008. We have been trying very hard to find him, and have been overwhelmed by the number of neighbours, friends and complete strangers who have been offering help and support. With so many people helping we cannot make calls in person to keep everyone up to date with the search, so this blog is our way of letting everyone know what is happening. CONTACT NUMBERS FOR US ARE 07951-722747 (PREFERABLE) OR 07921-545615

Thursday, 15 March 2012

A message of hope

Many thanks to Harriet and Harriet's mum for sending us this link to the story of a springer spaniel found after being missing for 5 years. http://www.thisisnottingham.co.uk/Dog-missing-years-reunited-Toton-owners/story-15410637-detail/story.html
I bet that the owners wish that she could talk to tell them what had happened!
Anyway, it was a nice message not to give up hope, and we are so glad that you are still thinking about us.

Thursday, 1 September 2011

A happy ending for the Wirral black lab - he had been reunited with his family. Still, well worth following up, many thanks to the person who spotted the advert.

Saturday, 27 August 2011

Thank you for the tip about the Black Lab with a skin condition on his back found on the Wirral. I have followed it up and will let you know if they get back to me next week. Tim.

Thursday, 2 December 2010

It is amazing to think that two years has gone past. We continue to hope that our little boy has found himself a loving home somewhere out there, but still miss him just as much.
Tim and Ffion.

Saturday, 7 August 2010

Croydon cascade

Boy the system can kick into action sometimes - which is absolutely lovely! Reassuring to know that people are still looking out for us (and Sky!) after all this time but yet again, it wasn't Sky.
This is what happened:
Phone call 23.15 this evening. Not a problem as I'd only just got in from work. I answer the phone thinking oh no, that's my sleep disappearing down the plughole, phone calls at this time generally meaning I have to go back in.
The lovely Kate from doglost.co.uk (the best lost dog website by far) said there had been 3 or 4 postings about a dog found today in Croydon which was a black labrador with a 'skin complaint' on its back. The dog was in the lady's garden and she couldn't get a dog warden to come out.
Anyway, I rang her, and it turns out she tried a vet instead and the dog was fortunately microchipped and has been successfully reunited with its owners.
Last week saw 2 Spinone's go missing (same breed as the lovely Jacob who went missing soon after Sky and is still at large). One stolen by a travelling community and the other missing in woods, who ran to the owner's car 5 days later! The stolen dog was reunited following the offer of a reward.
A large reward stands for both Sky and Jacob.
Kate says the police are getting more proactive about travellers these days and many stolen dogs have recently been reunited with their owners, which is nice.
We are still very happy tonight - when a dog matching Sky's description appears, there are lots of lovely people all over the UK jumping into action. Thank you Doglost.co.uk

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Activity to report, but still no success.

Many thanks to the kind person (anonymous) who sent us the link to the black lab with what looked like a patch of fur missing on the animalsearch website: http://www.animalsearchuk.co.uk/view_found_pet.php?id=11109
This dog looked so like Sky from the face and the hair loss on the back. By far the best match we have seen. However the white patch on the chest was not right. For a while we dared to hope that a white patch might just develop with time (OK, silly, irrational etc, but hope can give a powerful distortion of reality!). Unfortunately when we contacted the nice lady who had taken him in it clear that it was definitely not Sky.

Val sent us a lovely story of a lost lab reunited after many years:
Made us happy and sad at the same time. Still, maybe next time it will be us.

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Duck piccies as promised!

And one of 2 of our hens happily laying, for good measure!

Friday, 30 April 2010

Cappuchino, Biscotti and Latte

For concerned bloggers, the good news is that Honey and Scraggy are doing fine after their little attack by a dog. We now have lovely new fencing around the orchard and outbuildings, so our hens and ducks are out of their pen again and happy. The pen's not a bad size but boy, are they good at making you feel bad, crowding around the gate clucking "let us out" in Hen. Unfortunately before the fencing was completed, one of the little white call ducks got randy and chased Mrs Mallard through the gap and was snatched by Mr Foxy in front of my eyes. I couldn't believe the bad luck - he was outside the fencing for less than a minute.
So in compensation I have 2 lovely Indian Runner females and am getting 2 duck eggs per day. We've named our remaining white call duck Latte, as the new ones are fawn coloured so were duly named Cappuchino (white and fawn) and Biscotti (all fawn). Latte's very proud of his harem, but is struggling with his hormones as he's a lot smaller than them and watching him try to hang on while he exerts his manhood is very comical. I'm sure I don't need to be more graphic; there may be children reading.....
I'll badger Tim into putting some photos of our newbies on the blog this weekend (Mrs Technophobe here). We both have both days of the weekend off and are at home (novel).

No Sky related events at all this month :-(
There was a loose black labrador near East Midlands airport for a couple of weeks, proving quite hard to catch, but eventually laying food did the trick. She was duly rescued and was lovely and friendly once calmed down apparently. We were alerted quite soon in proceedings, so yet again the system activated. People are still trying to help.
Even the lady I got the ducks from, a good 10 miles northwest, knew about Sky.
I found myself ringing the microchip company the other day, just to check there'd been no queries on his number, but no. The lady was lovely and said it was absolutely fine to check and she was so sorry he was still missing, but if there was a query they'd call us straight away. It put my mind at rest.

Lastly, there's a lady called Lyndsey in Oxfordshire who's lost an 18 month old male staffordshire bull terrier, 25th March. I will write to her today. All I can say Lyndsey is - don't give up, put lots of adverts in your local free rags to spread the word, and if you start a blog I'll happily cross post it here.

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Not adding up, north of Odstone

While we await further information from Watermead Park, we have a conundrum north of Odstone (within the Bermuda triangle of black lab sightings). We mentioned that while we were in Mexico there was a mystery black lab, loose, seen by 2 women who know the area well and couldn't place it.
Last week we had a call from a lovely man called Simon who said he had been out on his horse all morning (does the route regularly) and had seen a black dog for a couple of hours, sitting contentedly in a field where some tyres have been dumped. This is a field which used to have maize at the height of the Bermuda triangle times so I knew it well, near a humpbacked bridge going over a disused railway with lots of nice hidey holes.
Tim and I were in work so I rang dear Tori on spec, and she leapt into action (it's 10 mins from home) with dog biscuits and the full "how to get a timid dog to come to you" training. Simon had said he thought there was a mark on the back and grey around the muzzle. I was besides myself with this information, and at the right moment Tim, whose diary said he was examining medical students' finals all day, appeared by my side saying they were overbooked with examiners and he had a free day totally unexpectedly. Within 5 mins I'd despatched him!
He arrived to find Tori who'd coaxed the dog to her, discovered it was a collie cross and not Sky, rang Ann our lovely dog warden and by the time Tim got there it was all over, with the dog en route to Animal Rescue in Hathern.
It turns out the dog was about 10 months old, didn't look like it had been "lost" for very long and remains unclaimed today, a week later.
Simon was so apologetic and there seemed to be no reassuring him that, but for people like him who make such an effort to contact us, we'll never find our little boy!
So is this the dog seen 2 weeks earlier? It doesn't sound likely but we don't know. We'll keep an open mind and remain fairly reassured that our spies are out there.
Meanwhile another doggy website has taken us on after a pleading email from me and will publicise a flyer about Sky amongst many of their connections. Thanks to Val from Barlestone who passed on their contact details.
Sad news a week ago. A neighbourhood dog attacked our hens 2 days in a row and on the 2nd day (literally we only let them out for half and hour and were with them but for 5 mins when Tim went to his tool-shed and I unloaded some washing) the dog killed beautiful Bossy (pack leader). Scraggy and Honey have been injured but are recuperating (with the aid of nice vet Linda). All are confined to barracks while we sort out additional protection (electric plus post-and-rail fencing). Poor Bossy had a slow death which had to be terminated by Tim in the end as we couldn't bear it.
And to think of all the time Tim has spent peeing around the hen run, with us thinking foxes were the main enemy (seriously, it's definitely true that this human scent keeps them away - loads of people say so................... ask anyone who keeps hens - OK, too much information LOL!)

Monday, 22 March 2010

Watermead progress

More progress on the Watermead black lab. Our local 'detective' spotted the same van last weekend and managed to have a 'chance' chat with the driver. All seemed above board, but did not manage to get a close view as the lab had been swimming and was running (unfortunately Sky's scar was usually more visible after swimming so this dog is unlikely to be our lost boy). The dog also looked older than Sky. Still we are miles further forward in being sure about these reports as we know that he is likely to be walked on a sunny weekend day at Watermead. I think that we will be spending more time there!

Sunday, 14 March 2010

Surveillance Saturday

What is it about going on holiday? You go weeks with no calls then you're guaranteed at least one while you're several thousand miles away.

This time, being North America and us not having tri-band, we didn't pick up the message until driving up the M40 from Heathrow on Wednesday afternoon. A very nice lady called Carol had seen a black lab with a scar in (yes) Watermead Park last Saturday around 2pm. She said the scar was "at the top of its leg". He was with a man of retirement age who looked respectable, and the dog seemed healthy and happy. They were in a silver van of the Transit type, with windows on the sides.
So guess where we were yesterday 1.30-3.30pm, esconced in the Jeep with our little picnic, watching the main entrance and the car park where she'd seen him? But alas, no action.
Still it gets us a bit nearer - the publicity in that area was worth it, there is a black lab with a scar (although probably not in the right place), and hopefully sooner or later we can pin down its identity.

Meanwhile we had a message on the answering machine as we arrived home from Heathrow. Near Odstone, site of many of the Barton-area sightings, a lady who know all about Sky and is out and about a lot in that area (and know all the dogs) saw a mystery black labrador while we were away. As ever, it fled when approached and they weren't able to get close enough to see if there was a scar, and it was getting dark. But they thought that there was a collar (which would not fit for the nearest known 'wandering' black labs who come from a farm about 2 miles away). They then spent hours the next day trying to track the dog down with no luck - such fantastic help again from complete stranegrs! It is these calls from people who work outside and know all the local dogs that make us still wonder 'maybe, just maybe'. They will keep an eye out and keep us posted.

Then there was another call yesterday morning from south of Ashby de la Zouch. A black lab on its own seen wandering by the roadside. The lady's daughter said "there's a poster about a dog called Sky near my school" so they drove over there (miles) then called us. Tim set sail, but quite quickly was able to trace its owner at a house nearby (our technique of knocking on doors and talking to anyone in the street was again proven to be so much better than searching for the dog - wish we had know this from the beginning!).
So again, the system works - which is reassuring. And yet again, the helpfulness and generosity of the general public restores your faith in humanity.

John (Jasper's dad) if you're reading this can you mention the 2nd sighting to any dog owners walking around in Watermead please? Thanks.

Oh and yes, we had a brilliant time in Mexico sea kayaking around islands in the Sea of Cortez and whale watching on the Pacific coast. We're thinking of doing the same next year to hopefully get better sightings of the whales - they were close but the water was choppy and waves quite big. Tim did very well to not be sick! Top tip - Stugeron tablets. Physician heal thyself.

Thursday, 25 February 2010


Yesterday morning was quite eventful - and had a happy ending. A lost dog was spotted by Tim as he headed up our lane to catch a train to London at 7am. He phoned me once he'd persuaded this very frightened, beautiful, pointer bitch to come to him and get a lead around her (collarless) neck - using some old Sky biscuits. I ran up the land and took over so he didn't miss his train, and spent a good half an hour persuading this poor trembling, muddy dog to come back to our house. It took a dog bowl full of tinned ravioli to get her inside - she was starving.
After an hour of drying her off, giving her water, a slice of bread, lots of love and a bit of peace and quiet while I dived in the shower (having to leave at 9am to do some high level interviewing), she settled on one of Sky's blankets, even gave me a wag, and looked exhausted.
Stupid me didn't think to take a picture to show you all - doh!!!
I rang the farm nextdoor - Lynn said the hunt had been through the previous day.
I rang the dog warden's office and they contacted Ann, our fabulous dog warden, who came on her way to work.
She stepped through the door and like Cesar Milan (the Dog Whisperer) this dog sniffed her, looked happy, and was later seen trotting off with her to the car with a totally different body posture than 2 hours previously.
She took one look and said "she's not a pointer, she's a fox-hound" (have a look on the internet dear bloggers - not much in it!). Oh, it's Wednesday - the Atherstone hunt came through here yesterday. She picked up an ear and found a tattoo saying "10", and said she'd have her back home in no time!
Tim's very proud of himself as she says fox hounds are notoriously hard to get to come to you - they are outside, pack animals, who get very frightened when separated from the pack and will only respond to very familiar people.
So a happy ending all round - I checked this morning and the dog was returned to its owner.
Yes you can guess the next bit. Ffion had spent 2 hours thinking this was an omen from God and if the dog was unclaimed on our return from Mexico in 2 weeks' time (going in 40 mins' time and need to stop prattling on on this blog) - then this beautiful creature was destined to be ours.......
I felt strangely unsettled all day yesterday.
Anyway, today is different - off to do sea kayaking and camping in a nature reserve in the Sea of Cortez with (hopefully) close encounters with whales and dolphins and sea lions. I am like a kid at Christmas!
Wonderful Pat will be hen, duck and house-sitting for us.
Got to go!

Monday, 1 February 2010

Targetting Syston just in case

Spurred on by John, Jasper's dad (of the December scar on back labrador at the Syston end of Watermead Park) and the general encouragement of a number of you, we're hitting that locality a bit.
A big THANKS to Val from Barlestone, who has blasted companies in that area with posters, and given me info which has resulted in postings on Leicestershirevillages.com, the Leicester Mercury blog which is locality based, and a mention in next month's Syston Town News publication. Val, your persistence encourages us so much.
I went to Birstall (next to Syston) last Friday and the large Borrajo's vet practice had put our poster up by the front door, after I posted it to them. They were really friendly and said they always scan new animals, and just recently had reunited a cat with its owner. The "new owner" brought it there with an abscess, but the chip went ping, and the real owner said he'd been search ever since the cat went missing. So I left there feeling "in safe hands". Their sister practice does the same.
I then went to the small practice in Syston itself. John is right about the slightly eccentric vet, who operates out of a Victorian terraced. He didn't recognise Sky, but they now have a poster up, and hopefully it will stick in his memory.
So that's the end of the little flurry for now.
I suppose Sky's so healthy that he's unlikely to need to go to a vet much till he's older. Hopefully, though, he could tell his new "owners" how much he enjoyed his trip to France and persuade them to take him. Then he'll have to get a new pet passport and that's when his existing chip will ping................

Sunday, 17 January 2010

Nil points at Hamilton

Happy 2010 dear bloggers
After the Watermead episode Ffion started obsessing about the phone call from nearby Hamilton last February, where a man described a black dog with a scar on the housing estate. So on Sunday, 2 weeks ago, we set off, armed with the usual flyers and posters (with the extra sentence mentioning a possible local connection, to get attention).
Tesco Extra doesn't do community noticeboards but the nice lady in Tesco's petrol station said she was "not supposed to", but she'd "put the poster up", with a friendly smile! Don't know how long that one lasted before the boss caught on...
In the Hamilton estate, which is a bit surreal - one of these new builds with quite fancy looking houses and "middle class" vibes emanating from the company car on each drive, we found a Sainsbury's 7 - 11 and put a poster up there. We put a flyer through the new-build primary school too. However, never have I seen such a dog-free zone. I know it was icy but there was only ONE dog walker out in half an hour of kerb crawling. When quizzed, he retreated (Ffion's vivid imagination judging him to have something to hide, but Tim's logical mind refuting this and declaring him a normal person), saying he didn't know anything. Not- "but I'll keep an eye out" etc - hmmmphh. The estate is heavily Southeast Asian (40% of Leicester's population) and they're not doggy people.
So here we are, 2 weeks on, and not a whisper. Nor anything from our scouts in Watermead Park. Today I took the poster down from our window onto the lane, 13 months on. That was a sad moment. Within our village Tori and Guy, and Ali and Esmond are still displaying theirs in their windows, our loyal supporters. I shall mention it next time I see them.
Tim's dad died this week. Tim is cheering himself up with amazing footage from 2 of our nesting boxes. He has infra-red cameras in an owl box, where a kestrel is in residence (!) and a blue tit box, where a little blue tit sits at night plumping up his feathers like one of those crazy puffer fish who can go spherical. Although we'd prefer to see Mrs Barn Owl in her box, we are still hoping for positive pregnancy tests all round.
Anyone got any advice for husbands addicted to their laptop while in bed, viewing 'other birds' ??

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Merry Christmas everyone

With only 3 days to go, and us working right through to Sunday, which is the Coats' Official Christmas Day (like the Queen has an official birthday) we should wish you all a Happy Christmas at this point.
No info at all from Watermead dog owners or the 2 veterinary surgeries :-( I do hope they've put our posters up.
Maybe every man and his dog (with a scar) will be out on Boxing Day if the beautiful weather continues?
By the way, useful information sent from Diana in Cornwall, who is a blog-follower, regarding trying to post comments - "you may find it helpful to change the type of comment form you use. My browser (firefox) doesn't allow me to use the embedded-style comment box like yours. You have the option in 'settings' to use a comment form that comes up either as a separate little box, or a new page. People rarely have trouble leaving comments with those types". Thanks Diana.

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

The Watermead Connection

Just a mini-update to say we're not much further forward right now.
Thanks to everyone who has emailed or sent good wishes with Christmas cards - a lot of people read Sky's blog but a number of you have difficulties posting comments. I've found that clicking on the drop down menu that says Google Accounts then typing in the letters they show you in the box does work, but those of you having difficulty are not dim, so maybe it only works from some computers!
Thanks also to Sue from doglost.co.uk who's been in contact to put an advert about Sky in a national publication which goes out in February, with the 2 pictures of him - front on and his back.
So back to "The Watermead Connection" as it is now known.
The location of Watermead Park sparked a memory which I've traced back to a call on 28th Feb from a man in a new housing estate in a place called Hamilton, really close to Wtmd Park. He specifically mentioned a scar on a black dog on a lead. He was a bit vague, it was 2 weeks previous and didn't fit with any other calls, and we had lots of other leads to follow at that time, so we took no further action. The location was tricky - he was vague and Google maps and A-Z maps didn't have the estate on them. However, if you had recently got a dog and over the next few months bothered to go beyond the estate and get in your car for a walk, Watermead is where you might go. When I re-looked at the map I did a double take!
I have emailed the 2 closest veterinary surgeries to Watermead Park and spoke to 2 very obliging receptionists. Lots of animal lovers in our area spread the word and kept eyes peeled after seeing our poster in Sky's vet surgery. The receptionists were a bit vague about the email system though and Tim and I have been working around the clock (literally - we're having a very bad patch at work at the moment) so haven't been able to pop in to the surgeries. I'm posting them each 2 posters for display this morning, with covering note.
So after 4 days of adverts in the Mercury (good sized ones which stood out in the Classifieds) no other calls about an actual scar, than Jasper's dad. We're glad we haven't been inundated with vague calls which take so much time and energy, and do feel that the softly, softly approach is right for now. If this is a real lead we don't want someone to feel hounded. Sorry, no pun intended!

Friday, 11 December 2009

A Watermead Day

So it felt like back to the old days - freezing fog, warm coat on, (the little red riding hood number), armed with flyers, off in the car again on another Sky mission. Little boy, if you only knew how hard we've searched for you.
I met Jasper the dalmatian's dad, who still thinks (looking at the picture on Blog 23 Feb, which is a bit different from the one we put in the Leicester Mercury) that the scar resembles the one on the black lab he saw, which he places at around a week ago.
However he, and all the many other dog owners I met (as ever - all extremely helpful), have not seen the dog at any other time. Watermead Park is a bit on the tourist map, so people can go there as a one off. He showed me the area where he saw the dog, and I spent a couple of hours getting my bearings - in case of another call. A chance meeting with a man and his wife and dog, who works for the council, meant I was put in touch with another man who could put me in touch with the Park Rangers, who will also keep an eye out.
And if I had a pound for the 25% of people who said "oh, do you mean Sky?" or the other 25% who said "oh yes, I've seen about him in the Mercury", I'd be rich.
We are refraining from putting posters around and about, in case the person who had the dog (on a lead apparently) gets scared and goes underground.
Another suggestion put to me was a local reporter for Central News, who one of the dog-walkers thought might fill a news-poor Xmas slot with a 30 second plea for Sky, with a picture of his scar. Need to give some thought to that. It could be a double edged sword. Any opinions from our bloggers would be welcomed.
Previously (as Jon and Shelley have found) the TV doesn't think a missing dog story is interesting enough. However it is a year on, and Xmas is - as we all know - short on real news.
The Mercury is carrying the advert again tonight and tomorrow night.
So here we are. Another waiting game.
Thanks Jasper's dad. It's observant people like you who might solve the mystery one day.

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Flicker of hope - Sky Army, stay on standby!

Hello bloggers
Our first night of advertisement went in the Mercury last night. 3 more to go. Had lovely text today - "are you the two doctors who put and advert in a year ago? please tell us where we can go walking with our dog". Amazing that people remember.
Then this morning, the exact type of call we are looking for. A man who walks his dog Jasper the dalmation in Watermead Park (north of Leicester, nice lakes and paths, good dog-walking zone) saw a black lab 1-2 weeks ago and thought "gosh, that's a nasty scar". Obviously thought no more about it till seeing our advert so called me today.
He's 95% sure it was a weekday and was between 0930 and 1130 in the morning. Luckily I've got the day off work tomorrow, so guess where I'm heading?!
From past experience, the best way you can get to the bottom of things is just go there and walk up to anyone you can see (definitely anyone with a dog) and strike up a conversation and ask.
So I'll try that in the morning, and unless I get sufficient negatives to "call the search off" we may be calling upon the generosity of the Sky Army to do some patrolling in the area in the coming week or two.
Promise I'll keep you all posted. Trying to not get too excited but am a bit like a woman possessed tonight!

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

One Year On :-(

We have just returned from a lovely 3 weeks in South Africa, combining wildlife - lots of seals, dolphins and whales, lots of sleep, seeing old friends and attending a conference. Geoff & Angela, our friends, looked after our house while we were away. Somehow, we still expected to arrive home to have Sky bolt down the drive towards us like a tornado and hear all about his escapades and funny moments.
Today it's a year since he disappeared into thin air.
Part of us can't believe it's been that long, then sometimes it feels like we can barely remember the happy days before the nightmare began. This morning it's picture postcard outside in our lovely 6 acres of land - sunny and frosty. I just went out to feed the hens and ducks (aka the girls and boys) and it's very cold out there. Unfortunately it's exactly the weather we had a year ago so it makes today feel more poignant. Could he have succumbed to cold and hunger in those early days? Everyone says not - he's a labrador, built for very cold climates and an expert scavenger. And if he'd died, I now know (didn't back then) that the farmland and villages are patrolled enough that a dead dog would probably found - most likely by another dog.
It has still got to be the most likely scenario that he's sitting on someone's couch, having a great time, being fed bananas, mackerel, carrots and the remains of meat casseroles - all his favourite things.
If he was found with his big scar, looking all pathetic and bedraggled, and larding affection on his finder, you can just imagine that they'd think "poor, abused, cast-out dog" and we know (didn't back then) that there is a substantial minority of people who think they're doing the right thing by not trying to contact the owner - or simply can't be bothered.
In which case, maybe - just maybe - one day he'll end up at a vet's or rescue centre where his microchip gets scanned and BINGO.
I think we need to do a "one year on" advert in the Leicester Mercury this week. There is a high level of readership and if the population of our county has not seen him in the last year (we'll put in the picture with the scar) then he simply can't be around here.
Of course Captain Paranoid keeps telling me the hair could have grown over the scar if cold temperatures stimulated hair growth. There was no sign of regrowth over the previous 2 years, but who knows?
In and amongst all the emotions, the overwhelming feeling I still have is still to absolutely marvel over how amazing people have been - from friends and family, to work colleagues, complete strangers and the general public. It's been incredible. There are a lot of doggy people out there.
To use a cliche it really does restore your faith in humanity.
I could list a long list of people here that I would like to thank but that would risk accidentally missing someone important out, so I won't. But I really want to thank Tori from the bottom of my heart. She has trudged the fields, accosted strangers, sat and planned strategy over maps and cups of coffee, launched off in the car at a moment's notice, kept us sane, and has been a total stalwart. Thank you Tori for everything. I know you miss Nevis your black lab, so at times it's been hard for you but you never showed it.
To everyone else who has supported us so much in so many ways, today seems a good opportunity to say a massive THANK YOU.
And to Jon and Shelley, who are still searching for Jacob in similar circumstances to us http://missingbraccojacob.blogspot.com/ - I hope we all have a happy ending one day, and thanks for the psychotherapy! If those boys return saying what a good time they've had in California chasing bitches and smoking joints, they're going to get such a telling off........

Saturday, 17 October 2009

Woody and Digger

More calls this week.
Today a lovely man called Joe rang, already fully aware of the Sky saga, and happening to be a friend of Darren, the man who lent us the (fateful, stolen, never found - thanks for nothing Leics police youknowwhotookititsobvious) trap. A black lab had just run out onto a lane in front of his landrover then darted back through the hedge into the field. He rang from the road, I jumped in the Jeep and joined him, right in the middle of the Hot Zone.
Alas, 15 minutes of chat later we heard a noise crashing around the other side of the hedge, my heart in my mouth as you'd imagine, saw a black lab - and a lady owner. She of course also knew all about Sky and spent a couple of months in the winter walking around with a carrot in her pocket, prepared to call "dinner".
Woody (I think I've remembered his name right?) had espaped through the hedge and that's what Joe had seen, 25 mins earlier, she assured us. Oh well - yet again at least the system kicks in and one day the mystery might be explained.
Another Digger encounter last Monday. It took till today to figure it out. A lady who lives in the Lount (many sightings there, you'll know if you're a Skyblogger) saw a black lab who scarpered once viewed, Monday morning. Called us Tuesday. I got in late so called back Wednesday. Wanted to call Digger's owner but the nice man from Carphone Warehouse had kindly wiped all my contacts in changing me to my new mobile phone a few days ago (aaggrgh!). Called her today and yes, Digger got out last Monday and made his way to Barton in the Beans - via the Lount.
Again, at least we've got to the bottom of it. And useful to know that although Digger's usually sociable, he can just take fright and run, so we can't necessarily use behaviour to discriminate between calls.
Ho hum...

Monday, 12 October 2009


Another false alarm today, but good to know people are still looking out and can locate our number quickly. A lady called Karen on the school run saw a black lab at a crossroads, soaking wet, matching the description for Sky but minus scar, and within no time had called us. It was north of Odstone, at the northern reaches of the supposed "territory" that we've been working on. So luckily we knew the area and fortunately have today off work so were able to launch into our routine, stopping and asking anyone who was out and about and knocking on nearby houses.
There's a gypsy camp very nearby so I couldn't help but get my hopes up, wondering if he'd been there all the way along. But stopping at a house with black labs, where I've stopped many months ago, an apologetic owner said that Holly had escaped this morning.
Still, better to have a sighting solved than not to.
Other than that there has been nothing since a mystery black labrador off the Barton Lane a month ago, in the centre of the Hot Zone. No calls since from there.
Tori and I did some scenting a couple of weeks ago, from there to home.
Val and Pete had a week on the Ashby Canal, put flyers up in the windows of their narrowboat, and it sounds like they talked to anyone and everyone about Sky. Thank you so much, you two. You've been solidly keeping up the momentum and the morale since the early days.
A phone call on Saturday evening nearly killed me off. We rang our friends who emigrated to New Zealand a year ago, because Bella their greyhound had an amputation last week for a tumour. Poor Bella. Alistair, who is now 3 and a half, said to Maggie the next day when Bella was whimpering: "Mummy, Bella's going to die today". Maggie says, comfortingly, "no she's not darling, we're going to look after her, she'll be all right". Alistair replies "but we didn't look after Sky".
How can all of that thought process and memory have gone on in a little mind that was less than 3 years old last December? I tell you dear friends, that has messed with my mind these last few days.
Tim's psychological cage was also rattled this morning, when a nice farmer that we stopped to ask about the 9 o' clock sighting said "I know how you feel. I've stopped having dogs. I've had them all my life but you just get too upset when something happens to them". But he did cheer Tim up with "Don't give up. My friend's dog went missing from Nailstone and turned up 6 months later in Coalville".
All we can do is hope that lovely people like Karen today will one day unlock the mysery that is Sky.

Monday, 21 September 2009


Well London was uneventful, Sky-wise but on Saturday as we were walking down a hotel corridor in Worthing at 9.30pm (during another emergency trip because Tim's dad has been quite ill all summer), starving hungry, wanting to go straight out to find food, the phone goes with another Sky-related call. Like buses, things go in threes.
A kind lady from Ibstock saw our poster in the Co-op a few months ago and has been thinking about us, having lost their Staffs bull terrier in January, for which they blame the gypsies. Her husband was on the social community website Gumtree.com on Saturday evening while she was in work and saw an advert from a family north of Hinckley (not that far south from here, in the direction of the potential sighting the evening Sky disappeared), to say they'd found a black lab months ago, been looking after it, but decided they couldn't any longer. Hearts in mouths, we let ourselves into the hotel room, scrabbled for a pen and paper, then located Tim's laptop and dongle for Internet access, logged on to Gumtree, and discovered it was a female named Jess, found on 13th October, 6 weeks before Sky went missing.
I emailed the family to check they'd got the dog scanned for a microchip in case the owners were as distraught as us. They had and she has no chip. THey'd done a limited amount of local publicity but to no avail. Moral of the story is to chip your dog.
I will reply back to make sure they've checked doglost.com.
It's just the sort of story we imagine might have happened to Sky - but either the chip didn't read, or they didn't even try.
Another nil points. Another going round of scenarios in your head.
Still, any phone calls are better than silence. Maybe one day it'll be The One.

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Deja vu

Phone call today from nice local man at 1.15pm today who said "I think I've just seen your dog!"
He knew all about Sky - plus the timid behaviour of the much-spotted black lab, so was a reliable informant.
The sighting was in one of the "favourite" places - in a field near Pete & Bren's house, just off the Barton Lane (perpendicular to Green Lane, on the Lount side). He said it was pottering around nonchanlantly and he watched it for a while expecting to see an owner, but then the dog saw a tractor in the field which seemed to trigger him to run off to (what we call) the Tori and Ffion copse (being so often patrolled by us after being seen running off in that direction many times before and with it having nice pheasant feeders and dens and running water). It was the running away scared behaviour that particularly interested him - as he said, a farm dog won't behave like that.
I rang Digger's mum and after his recent escapades he was firmly locked in the kitchen!
So off we set in the cheeky Jeepy - glad that we were on leave and both at home (rare event). Tim drove "the circuit" while I walked diagonally through that area.
Nothing. As usual.
Tim is currently (at dusk!) laying a scent trail. He is a bit haunted by a neighbour saying she saw a black dog at 03.00 back in May, in the grounds of Osbaston Hall. That's where Tim had been scenting as far as, back in those days, but stopped just there on the basis that that's just the opposite side of our village. Having said that we didn't often go down that end so Tim's been obsessed about this ever since. Tonight he'll scent all the way up the lane (another half mile) to home.
What does this mean today? We don't know.
The corn fields and high grass are now being cut, so there's visibility across fields which there hasn't been since May.
We still have posters up in the area and local people still have a good awareness, we think.
Dogs do move territories then come back. The triangular territories they inhabit are up to 15 miles wide.
We're going to London early tomorrow morning to a conference. I'll be back late Thurs night and Tim's not back till Saturday afternoon. I can just feel it in my bones that the minute I arrive at Imperial College, the mobile will go...................

Monday, 14 September 2009

The Lount explained?

Deep in the South of France, on a canal boat, going through a double lock, I hear the beep of my mobile with a text call. It's last Thursday and Pete Childs has just found a wandering black lab whom he was pretty confident wasn't Sky as there was no scar and the dog jumped onto the front seat of his car with confidence, but Pete was on his way to the local vet's to see if he could be ID'd by a chip - as he was wearing no collar. He was ID'd and is Digger, who belongs to a farm near the Lount. He's just been brought to the vet's again this morning, on another wander to a farm in Market Bosworth.
This sort of information helps - his owners have been very helpful to us in the past but didn't imply he was this much of a wanderer. It makes all the sightings in that area seem likely to be him.
The Green Lane is about a mile away, so that's less certain but of course quite possible.
The Helpout Mill is considerably further away.
A lot of our calls have described a dog who's always running and won't turn to a person's voice though, and by contrast Digger by all accounts is very friendly and is generally just nosing around.
This information makes me bipolar. I'm mainly glad we can make more sense of things, but it also diminishes the hope that the sightings were Sky. Having said that I think we're reaching the stage of acceptance that Shelley and Jon describe in their latest posting http://missingbraccojacob.blogspot.com/
I could have written every word Shelley has said. Our thoughts are identical. There's no point in repeating them here, but as I watched black labrador's gambling in and out of the Canal du Midi in France, remembering Sky doing the same on the Ashby canal here, I felt deep down like we'd never see him again.
Like J&S, we know from our knowledge of farmers and shooting parties that it's highly unlikely he would have been lying dead somewhere but unfound. So where is he? Who's got him? The lack of closure prevents you fully accepting you'll never see him again.
We'd planned to do this trip with Sky so I knew the first day or two would be tough. I actually only had one unstable moment which took me a bit by surprise but shouldn't have as it was identical to the one when I was at work, when I petted the blind man's black lab. There was a lab in a restaurant one lunchtime, whose owners were happy for me to fuss, and behaved exactly like Sky enjoying all the certain kinds of scratches and strokes and reacting the same way. Luckily we were sitting at a table in the corner and I was facing out to the canal, so when I stood up and went back to my seat, sat down and burst into tears, no-one saw except Tim. Who swallowed hard, couldn't say anything as he filled up too, and gulped some rose wine (which finally worked on me after a while!)
Having said all that we had a fabulous, relaxing holiday; slept tons; enjoyed pottering at 4 kph in our narrowboat called St Chinian; cycled through vineyards; ate lots of fromage de chevre, baguettes and cassoulet; and with plenty of flights from East Midlands airport have said we'll do a few weekends in France over coming months while we don't have the responsibility of a dog.
The chickens seem pleased to see me - judging by the fact I've just had to chase 3 of them out of the kitchen, and our friend Pat has done a great job of babysitting them and the ducks while we were away. Thanks Pat!

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Helpout Mill again

After many weeks of silence we had a call about a black lab at the Helpout Mill yesterday. This was exactly the same place as the first sighting that we were called out to way back in December. The dog was described as small and thin, but it was up a bank so could not tell if there was a scar on the back. It barked and appeared to interact rather than immediately run away. This is different from previously reported behavior - is this a change in behavior or a different dog?
We are not getting any hopes up and are waiting to see if there are any more reports which might indicate that this black lab has moved back into the area. After today's rain we will lay the scent trail home for a couple of weeks, just in case!

Sunday, 26 July 2009

Dog Days of Summer

Well, more like occasional glimpses of warm sunshine - but still, yesterday was a special day when we were invited to join Jon & Shelley Haggerwood at a camping, swimming weekend at Watermead Park near Leicester.
Jon & Shelley, as most of you know, lost their Italian Bracco Spinone Jacob, a few weeks after Sky went missing, and have gone to great lengths, like us, to find him. Sadly - like us - nothing seems to be working and it's radio silence. The link to ther blog is on several of our posts below.
Meeting them was like meeting long lost friends - we've shared the ups and downs over these months, and if there's a chapter in the psychiatry book Losing A Dog Psychosis: Women on the Edge of a Nervous Breakdown - then Shelley and I probably tick all the boxes LOL
They were there with fellow Spinone owners and breeders (there aren't many of this unusual and beautiful breed in the world) and a gaggle of Newfoundland dog owners (for dog, read bear) - all practicing retriving skils in the water. It was nice to have a doggy fix. Strange to see dogs having to be enticed out of the water, when Sky would have been in there all day, in seventh heaven.
Tim and I were grateful that this event was close enough to home that we didn't have to become Happy Campers (the adjective least likely to describe Ffion in a tent).
In case you're wondering if we've had any Sky leads since my last post, the answer is no, nothing at all. Just a call from someone saying he was an author researching lost dog stories. Sounded a bit suspect, so I asked him to call back a few days later on a convenient day and never heard back. After Jon & Shelley's fruitcake woman experience I'm a bit cautious.
We put another advert with pictures in the Veterinary Times but that's yielded nothing.
For now, I'll take solace in my Hooligan Hens and Gay Ducks (so-named by a friend who thinks they're far too bullied by The Girls). Houdini was true to her name this morning and after hearing some clucking from a strange direction had Tim and I leaping out of bed half dressed combing the lane (me looking particularly glamorous with my bed-hair). She was shortly returned by the pheasant keeper who works the lake at the bottom of our land, who saw her in the cow field.
She got her first warning after this (I believe in Supernanny). "Chicken stew!" I said. But didn't mean it of course.

Monday, 6 July 2009


Strange goings on today. Phone call from Pete & Bren early morning with a sighting of a black labrador in their garden again (like in Dec / Jan), who fled as soon as they started to open the door.
Tim was still at home luckily so piled out by car and then on foot. Pete piled out (still in his pyjamas, bless him) but to no avail for either. Diddly squat. Houdini again.
Our other Houdini - one of the chickens - is eyeing up the great Outdoors and has plans to expand her territory. I never thought chickens could have personalities but she's definitely the extrovert and the most intelligent.
Anyway back to black labrador. Who knows what to make of this. Pete and Bren will keep an eye out and each morning will have a peep from the window before opening the door. Tomorrow sees the advert in the Veterinary Times, so it's fingers crossed for that next step.

Monday, 29 June 2009

Positive thoughts

Thanks to Helen and Pete who alerted us to the Cornwall dog found safely in Eastern Scotland after 6 months story, and to Yvonne, who emailed with a story of a London dog lost for 2 years, both now very happily reunited with their owners thanks to their microchips. That's cheered us up. So today we placed another advert in the Veterinary Times (national weekly journal, read by vets and their nurses) which will appear next Tuesday.
My parents are over from the USA at the moment and house-hunting. They looked at a property 5 miles from here yesterday and mentioned their daughter losing a dog in conversation, to which the lady immediately replied "you don't mean Sky, do you?". Really reassuring to know that awareness is still out there. I went for an out-patient's appointment last week in Leicester, 10 miles away, and the receptionist who I barely recognised, said "no news on your dog?". I guess that's why we've now got it in our heads that he must be out of area. Probably esconced on someone's sofa, munching bananas, like Lord of the Manor.
Our hens are laying more eggs than we can keep up with. Eggs for breakfast, lunch and dinner at the moment! They look so happy, pecking and exploring the new outside world. We have to keep the poor little things in when it's sunny, so they don't burn where they've lost so many feathers in their battery cages. The ducks aren't too phased - just being a bit snobby at the moment.
We have annual leave at the moment and are staying home (for once). It's odd pottering around without Sky - still. Tim accidentally clicked on a photo on the computer last night, of the last one we took of him at the end of November. Hmmm........ I slept on a very wet pillow last night.
Never mind - maybe next Tuesday's advert will bring some news. You never know. Fingers crossed, gang!

Sunday, 21 June 2009

Happy hens

Hello Bloggers.
Since the last posting we've only had 2 phone calls. One was Rocky, the black lab we caught and returned home one day - out for another wander in exactly the same area. At least that was easy to pin down. The other from an author publishing a book about dogs that go missing. He wanted to meet up to interview us and sounded harmless enough and is going to call back tomorrow (I was in a meeting at the time he called) but after Jon & Shelley's experience we certainly wouldn't meet him at home, and will be cagey about any personal details if we do decide to meet up.
Since Sky went missing I've found a need to care for something (obviously Tim doesn't count ;-) ) so a month ago I found myself inheriting 3 male calling ducks. Then I discovered the Battery Hens Welfare Trust and to cut a long story short Tim and I and our friend Pat found ourselves picking up 5 hens near Coventry yesterday. They are rescued from certain slaughter because their egg production has gone below 1 per day, even though they are only 17 months old and have another few years left in them. They're in a very sorry state, with pecked feathers, droopy combs, weak legs, and are totally bewildered at seeing daylight or being able to walk. One of them is skeletal in terms of feather loss. Quite upsetting.
Apparently within 2-4 weeks they'll be transformed and confident.
While we were there a man saw the missing Sky poster in our Jeep and said "haven't you found him yet?". He came from Ashby de la Zouch, 40 miles from where we were, and 10 miles from our home, but knew all about Sky. That was nice.
Seeing another Jeep Cherokee with a happy dog in the back on Friday evening driving home from a very hard week's work wasn't so nice, and set me off crying again.......
But the Ashby man said he knew a dog who had been stolen then returned many months later when a vet scanned his chip, so we live in hope still, and may put another advert in the Veterinary Times.
Anyway, the BHWT is an amazing organisation of volunteers who rescue these hens and if any of you are interested the website is http://www.bhwt.org.uk/
If you can't look after any hens, please do visit the website and let it persuade you never to buy eggs which aren't free range - if you still do.
One of my girls laid an egg on the way home, which I had for breakfast this morning. I was dead chuffed!
Thanks to Helen for the offer of company for July's fitness campaign. Please phone or text on the numbers at the top of the blog, and we can link up. If anyone else wants to join in with some walks please contact us. Thanks. Ffion.

Friday, 5 June 2009

July fitness campaign

Well, we've had absolutely no phone calls of any kind since the Osbaston House Farm episode 6 weeks ago. However we've had times like this before, and as Rachel said in her comment for our last posting (and as many people are also saying) - if it is him in that area, it's close enough to home that yes we could have that magical moment when a black hairy bullet just charges at us through the gates. Oh, what a dream moment that would be..........
My Sky Army Stalwart Tori is back from some time in the Meditteranean but like me, has a punishing schedule of work for June and we'll be entrenched behind our laptops all hours of the day and night. I'm at the end of a mega educational video project for the Department of Health and have square eyes right now.
We've decided that July will therefore be spent trawling the footpaths of that area, keeping watch and laying sent, and getting fit again! Tim has made a Heath Robinson device of my empty Highlands Spring water bottles, through which he puts intravenous drip tubing (no of course it's not nicked from work, how could you ever think that?), which drips water from the bottle which contains the contents of the vacuum cleaner bag, which apparently smells of home.
Yes OK we'll look like Ghostbusters and may have to answer a few questions from a few police officers but it will be lovely getting out into the countryside and feeling that we're doing something.
Talking of police officers, poor Jon & Shelley have at least been put out of their misery about mysery Welwyn Garden City dog which "a nice lady" thought was their dog Jacob (see posts below for their website). The nice lady is a career fraudster and has many other frauds on the go, and is currently living at Her Majesty's Pleasure while the police decide how many things they might be able to charge her with.
People lead such sad lives that instead of trying to use spare time to help others, they have to twist it in this way. All that wasted time and emotion for Jon & Shelley gets me angry on their behalf. We've only had 3 fraudulent calls, all of which were pretty sorted within a couple of hours and that was bad enough.
Anyway, back to being positive. If anyone wants to join the fitness campaign for July, just shout! It's lovely countryside and much nicer to gabble along with someone than trudge miserably thinking about my little boy.

Monday, 1 June 2009

6 months on

We cannot believe that we are six months to the day since Sky went missing. It seems so odd that we were walking the paths wrapped up and sitting out at night in temperatures of minus 10, yet now we are walking in hot sunshine in a t-shirt with skylarks singing and the oats growing waist high in what used to be a frozen muddy field.
We are still laying the scent trail home ever 3 or 4 days. The route that we are scenting cuts right between the two main areas of sightings (the Lount and the Green Lane). Any dog moving between these two areas has to cross our scented path. It main be a faint chance, but at least this makes us feel as we are doing something.
There have been no more sightings since our last post. We think that everyone around the area knows about Sky, so we are just waiting and still keeping fingers crossed.

Saturday, 16 May 2009

Scent to Home

No more sightings of Green Lane Black Labrador to report since its visit to the holiday tent. It is so frustrating that this dog does not come near people or food or a trap! We have rather run out of ideas, so the current plan is a scent trail that leads home. The Green Lane is just under two miles from home, but Sky has never walked the route. There is also a lot of sheep fenced fields, which a dog could not get through - with only two possible routes.
We are therefore putting a scent trail from the Green Lane to home through the shortest route. Hoover bag contents mixed with water is said to the best scent. Unfortunately wind and rain make scent short term - and we have had nothing but wind and rain recently.
We think that this is the best strategy at present as nothing else seems to give anything positive.

Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Come back nice BBQ weather!

I'm sitting here with the central heating on and a jumper on, thinking that this break in the weather isn't going to tempt 7 tentfuls of holidaymakers into barbecuing outdoors, is it? Patience, Ffion, patience!
The CCTV footage of Copse No.3 is reviewed and there's no sign of Sky. :-(
The food hasn't been going so tonight I took the bowl away.
Yesterday at work I noticed that a blind patient had just arrived with a black labrador guide dog. I asked if I could make a fuss of the dog and was allowed to. The dog was soon putty in my hands, ears right down submissively, tail wagging, paw on my forearm. I was deliriously happy for a minute then thought it was a bit unprofessional to continue for much longer, with a heaving waiting room and people in the resus room needing me, so thanked the owner and started to walk away and BUMPHHHHH it hit me like a wall.
There was something about refocussing and walking away from that dog which made me fill up with tears and have to find an empty cubicle to hide in for 10 mins. Boy, that caught Mrs SuperEfficient SuperCool by surprise.
So what next? Tim thinks we should walk the public footpath from us to the farm with the tents, to lay scent, as many evenings as we can manage just in case Delinquent Dog notices, and has a vague memory of big bowlsful of food, lots of love and something called HOME.
Walking boots on............... forward march.

Saturday, 25 April 2009

Feels like a step forward

I had a lovely BBQ of sausages and bacon yesterday at 2pm chez John and Sharon Earp, looking at beautiful views, sitting in front of one of their lovely safari tents (they have a fantastic website www.osbastonhousefarm.co.uk where you'll be able to figure out exactly where I was), listening to the chickens clucking, and bordering on open fields which lead down to the Lount brook - site of a few sightings. Between there and where I was were a couple of copses, nice lake, plenty of hedges where my lovely bacony smell was wafting - you can see where I'm leading with this - and it all made sense. If it was Sky on Tuesday, there's a buffet on his doorstep, with plenty of places to skulk while he builds confidence.
OK let's look at this rationally and not get carried away.
Against the fact this is Sky:
The lady who rang would have had to look downhill at him - surely she'd have seen some evidence of a scar? Or maybe it really has covered over?
Digger, the black lab in the farm nextdoor, does wander. He doesn't have a collar (but the lady sounded less sure about collar status) and is larger than Sky, but his owner Monique would still describe him as small.
If mystery black lab is Sky and he's living wild, it does stretch the imagination that sightings are so infrequent.
On the other hand:
Digger is very friendly and Monique and Sharon both (independently) said he'd be more likely to run up and make himself at home in the tent than run away.
Monique's husband was shifting a lot of earth last Tuesday and she thinks the dogs were kept in a lot of the day.
People have only recently started staying in the tents and cooking and leaving things outside (foody things and dogs) so this is a new phase, and will last all summer.
From that POV it means loads more opportunities to come. Even if it's a lot noisier and busier there will be times (eg dusk) when Mr I Love Licking Barbecues Normally won't be able to resist, when the people quieten down. So we will have 7 sets of people doing what Tim and I couldn't have done full time.
I did a poster for every tent, describing Sky physically, with 2 photos. I explained the behavioural aspects and gave enough of the story to make it interesting, and a talking point for children (I hope). John & Sharon are happy to include this in the visitors' room information.
Even if nothing comes of it, it probably helps us conclude that there isn't a Sky out there, which from the psychological POV right now, still helps us move on.
Not to put all eggs in one basket we are continuing the feeding station at Copse No.3 but have moved the bowl as the mice were getting fat and might die from a heart attack soon.
We also eagerly await the results of the CCTV footage (Monday I hope).
We are also thinking of sending an email for forwarding, to all friends, chain-style, just in case he's somewhere else and all this Green Lane business is a false lead. Apologies if you receive it and don't like that sort of thing, but with good will, it could reach many parts of the UK. We will of course include missing Jacob, whose owners Jon & Shelley are going through the same torments as us www.missingbraccojacob.blogspot.com

Thursday, 23 April 2009

Trying not to get over-excited...!

Dear Bloggers - an important phone call happened at lunchtime today. I'm waiting to hear from a neighbouring farm that it wasn't their black labrador, but I don't think so because I know theirs is a big dog, sooooooo:
Lady is here on holiday with family, staying at Osbaston House Farm, just up the slope from the Lount (site of a couple of previous sightings). Staying in a tent. Saw a black Labrador lunchtime (it always is that time of day isn't it?) on Tuesday.
She didn't know there was one missing but asked a couple of the farm hands if it belonged to the farm and was told no. Didn't think any more of it until she saw one of our posters in Market Bosworth today. As it happens John & Sharon Earp who are lovely people who own the farm have one of our posters on the side of their barn right on the road !!!! (the lady hadn't seen this).
The story went like this:
The lady was in the tent talking with her husband and they had been cooking some food. So nice smells would have been emanating, on this warm, sunny, still day.
Her Alsatian / Border collie X (Sky's favourite breed strikes again) was asleep in the sunshine outside.
She goes outside and sees a black Lab sniffing her dog. Thinks - oh dear if he wakes up and finds a nose in his face he may not be happy. She looks at the Lab, he looks at her, he trots off, her other dog (lurcher) goes after him, he then bolts into the distance. Asks a couple of people, who can't identify the dog, and thinks "oh well" - until she saw the poster today.
On direct questioning yes, there may have been a tag dangling from a collar (?)
He was small (:-)) and didn't look malnourished (:-)) and she wouldn't have thought he looked like a stray.
She was 15-20 feet away but didn't notice a scar (:-()
So if this isn't the farm dog from the nextdoor farm (have left a msg on their ansafone) then:
1. There's a recent sighting, after 2 and a half weeks' silence
2. It fits the pattern and geography
3. That's the closest he's ever got to home - if you're interested in the geography search Google maps for Lount Road CV13, and zoom out a level. You will see Osbaston (us) and you'll see the relationship to the Green Lane which is the single track road just to the right of Barton in the Beans, heading north. Osbaston House Farm is close to the A447 end of Lount Road.
4. Most importantly - he was attracted by either the food smells or the dog or both, and the lady looked at him and he didn't immediately bolt. This is how we're going to eventually get our little boy - he develops more confidence, and someone reacts calmly, and perhaps he'll come to them in due course???!!!
Yes, you can tell I'm getting over-excited. Tim's giving me that look of - "don't! You know you'll be right back down again soon"
Anyway in the meantime John and Sharon are happy for me to do bacon and sausages on one of those cheap foil / charcoal barbecue things tomorrow at 1pm in the same location.
In the interim the Copse No.3 food was eaten in part this evening - tripe sticks and banana remaining (nibbled) but meat and biscuit gone, so very much looking like Mr Mousey. However given that the last 2 times everything went, we've installed the camera to help us.
Phew! Time for a glass of wine to stop my mind racing and get me to sleep.

Back for seconds

Another emptied bowl yesterday - tripe sticks as well. That had happened overnight, as I discovered by going out in the morning instead of the evening. I replaced the whole bowl and contents and added a banana. Last night nothing touched. Am grounded this morning as my cheeky Jeepy is in for fixing possible Sky-search related damage (it was a tough winter doing a lot of off roading). Will check status later.
Maybe it's time to reinstate the camera.
Forecast good through to Sat morning then unsettled for the weekend.
Neither Ffions or cameras do well out in the wet so we need a Coats Case Conference this evening.....

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

A Dog and Mouse Game

Not much to report really.
Michelle is apparently on annual leave so we are unlikely to get a verdict from the CCTV footage until next Monday. SIGHHHHH...............
Tonight the food bowl had been emptied however, including the tripe stick. Well there was a little bit of Pedigree gubbins at the bottom. I'd put quite a lot of meat and biscuit in. There were mouse droppings around but they could never shift a tripe stick - these are quite big. My trainer was in the same position.
As I drew up in my Cheeky Jeepy Pete and Bren, as usual, were kindly keeping an eye out with binoculars, and thought they saw something black, fleetingly, in front of the hedge in Big Field no.1. However there are an awful lot of black crows around, which catch all the Sky Spotters out, incessantly, much to our annoyance.
I hung around a bit but there were 2 dog walkers and 3 horse riders around so I figured that if he was going to try to slip away along a hedge I'd have seen him. However he had been heading in the direction of the large copse off Green Lane, so could easily have laid low there.
Thanks to Rachel for offering to "sleep out". A very generous offer. I've thought about this and the weather is great at the moment. I think the scent is important so there's only really any point in me and Tim being there. Tim's in Brighton for the annual conference of our College of Emergency Medicine, back tomorrow night. Maybe we'll camp out Thurs or Fri evening, especially if the food keeps going.

Saturday, 18 April 2009

waiting for news

Sorry Sky followers - going through CCTV footage takes ages so we haven't heard back from Michelle, the dog warden, with a result of 5 days' filming. As she collected the camera from the house with a view to Copse No.3 on Wednesday apparently a neighbour had seen a black labrador Saturday lunchtime. We are desperate to know more information.
I wish people would realise that things like that are worth a phone call. I could have been out there in 10 minutes with the binoculars. Aaagghhh!
Last night most of the dog meat and biscuit had gone from the bowl there, but it wasn't licked clean, and I've never known our Sky leave a micro-particle of food behind. With the rain, our scent (trainer and rag) would have been diluted and Tim saw a fox make a fast exit as I approached so most likely Mr Foxy had a nice dinner. It's amazing how fresh human scent keeps them off.
The other day Casey my niece asked if we fed Sky rabbit. I said it was one of the 4 flavours of Pedigree pouches he used to have. She thought this was a good thing, as he'd have the taste for it and the copse is next to a big rabbit warren. Very astute, I thought!
This morning I'm wearing the left trainer to swap it for the right trainer. Not so sure I'll wear the right one again, hmmm. And there's a rag in our bed which I'll take with me. I think I'll add the infamous tripe sticks to the bowl, as no creatures seem to like those. We don't know that Sky would but the dog wardens swear by them!

Tuesday, 14 April 2009


Sorry for the silence - been a busy bank holiday at work for both of us.
Outside of that we had Tim's brother, wife and our 2 nieces to stay for 5 days, and shared some tears for our missing Sky, who normally joins in the fun with such vigour.
I took Casey and Sophie with me to check on the bowl we've been leaving in Copse No.3. None of it has gone. I also left an old trainer of mine on the basis that if we ever left him on his own (rare because he hated it) he'd hoard any of my shoes that he could find into his basket with him, for comfort, therefore might find it and at least move it - ideally to show us where he's sleeping.
Did we scare him off last Wednesday? Even if we did he'll surely come back, as we know we have these periods of quiet then there he is again at the bottom of the Green Lane.
We so wish we knew for definite it isn't a local dog. Then we think - it's a small village, everyone knows about Sky, someone would say "that'll be so-and-so's dog".
Tomorrow we'll hopefully hear from Michelle, one of the dog wardens, who's had a camera in the back upstairs window of Beryl's house, overlooking Copse No.3.
On the bananas front - we caught Mr Rat red handed on camera. The mice were co-conspirators, but Mr Rat can shift a bowlful! We've taken the camera down from Pete & Bren's, but they now assist us in keeping watch with the binoculars when we go to do bowl duty each evening - just in case of another Houdini Hedge moment.
Talking of bananas, if you've read Jacob's blog today (see posts below for link) you will see how losing a dog takes its toll. I recognise the full gamut of their emotions. Like Jon & Shelley we go over old ground, in case there was a clue we overlooked at the time. Like them, we have strange dreams about our little boy, and feel Jekyll and Hyde when we crave a bit of quiet time and normality, then hate it when it happens because we feel we're not making any progress.
I offered Shelley I'd buy a chaise longue, to double up as a psychiatrist's chair. You'll see we'd both welcome any recommendations for a good shrink.......

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

So near yet still so far...

Well, we think we made progress, but sadly we still don't have Sky safe and sound at home.
We all met as planned, had a strategy meeting, and planned to cover 3 copses, most of us on foot and a few "Meerkats" in cars and upstairs windows (Pete & Bren - by the way just biscuits gone last night at their place - I'm off to check the footage shortly).
Michelle, the Blaby dog warden, has set up a CCTV in a house overlooking the Lount (thanks to Jane who lives there with her 7 collies) and at 4pm Saturday a dark dog or larger than dog sized thing came out from the brook into the field and went back under cover. That was all she could find over a 4 day period. She showed us the photo. Could it be??
So off we set.
We were armed with mobile phones and a few walkie talkies, and Tim was "HQ on legs". Thank you so much to everyone who helped, especially Vivienne who had heard of our blog via postings on other sites, discovered she lives very hear, and asked if she could join us. So from 10.45 this is how it went:
Copse no.1 revealed a fox, who scarpered. Squiggly the trained retriever gun dog was having a great time running through mud and thick undergrowth. Ziggy the spaniel joined in.
Copse no.2 revealed another fox and a muntjac deer.
We regrouped at the bottom of the infamous Green Lane and went up to Copse no.3. This is thick, quite large, has a nice lake, plenty of cosy den areas and is only 50m from the Green Lane, in the area of all the sightings. Dog walkers don't usually go this route yet we saw lots of pawprints in the mud and 2 dog poos.
As we were 2/3 along Ffion looked back to the Green L to check that Rachel and Gail had eyes trained on us and saw the silhouette of a labrador sized dog with flappy labradory ears running on the brow of the hill where the GL sits in a dip between high hedges. Initially Bird Brain Ffion thought "oh look there's a dog going up the lane" then 2 seconds later went "duhhhh!!!!!" and to cut a long story short we missed it. Sam, aged 12, with Ffion, also saw it so it's not just her hallucinating. No-one was seen walking a dog till 20 mins later. Fresh prints in the on the lane looked like the right sized dog, clearly running, doing a rapid U-turn just below where Rachel and Gail were about to arrive and going backwards, in the dip of the lane. A random car drove up and had seen nothing, but from where Ffion and Sam saw him he'd have been on the other side of the hedge at that point. Bren saw a fox scarper through her binoculars.
We never accounted for this dog, and the lay of the land was such that it could have run from the copse, along a ditch where Tim and I couldn't see, arriving at exactly the point he was seen last Monday, and following the same route. There are a lot of ditches and hedges around!!
As no-one had seen him going off in another direction we went back and did the copse again in case he'd returned, but nothing there.
We covered another nearby copse just in case, but no luck.
We were tired and hungry by then and retreated Chez Coats for pizzas.
Part of us is going AAAAAAAAAAAARRRGGHHHHHHH!! Perhaps more of us would have had him surrounded and we should have had a bigger team?
Part of us thinks - this must be him and he must have this copse as his no.1 spot. It's as far away from people and traffic as you can get, with plenty of cover. Knowing this is MAJOR progress.
So many thoughts were postulated over pizza, too many to float here (but if there's anyone reading this who's been in this situation please do call us on the numbers at the top of the blog to give us your experience). The upshot of which are:
We will try tinkling the dog biscuit in his metal bowl, hoping this is hardwired in his head, then leaving the bowl under natural cover and walking away. Do this for a few days at the same time of day and see what happens.
Install the CCTV in a house overlooking this copse - there are 4 or 5 houses, all know about Sky, and I am just off to see if one of them doesn't mind. We think there's a section down in a dip that won't be visible but who's to say he always goes in a straight line.
Consider lying there in an evening one night next week in sleeping bags, just me and Tim, very quiet, to see if he'll pick up our scent and come to us.
We need patience at this stage and need to remind ourselves that the weather is better, he's surviving fine, and best not to rush it after 4 months of hoping to get to this point, and risk scaring him away.
Ffion is not known for her patience, but is 42 next week and agrees that she's old enough, that she should try harder!

Monday, 6 April 2009

Good vibe telepathy

Thanks to those of you who have emailed (it seems the comments boxes on this Google thing is picky about what it lets us post - I have trouble too). You are all willing our boy to decide to be in the Hot Zone on Wednesday morning, and show himself!
I lurked up there this afternoon with my laptop, on a vantage point. We've refreshed the posters in that area to ensure people are aware that things are still happening (to try to avoid last week's situation where it took an hour and a half of him practically tap dancing across the fields before anyone called us!)
As I was driving out to HZ today, I found a scared Jack Russell on the road. Like Jon & Shelley who stopped to entice a lurcher x Saluki the other day, I will never ever drive past a seemingly alone dog again. It only took 5 minutes to hear young girls calling, and return him to them. Jon & Shelley describe people's "don't get involved" attitude excruciatingly on their blog http://missingbraccojacob.blogspot.com/. Maybe people are just too wrapped up in themselves to notice, and just don't think they have a role to play in returning a dog to its owner. It's that sort of thing which meant that when Sky went from sociable to terrified, there was only a small window of opportunity to get hold of him, and we know people saw him and didn't bother. Full marks to J&S for perfectly executing the behaviour we've been taught, to entice a wary dog to safety. He looks very thin on the pictures. Well done you two.
Bananas and other food at Pete & Bren's remain untouched. Food in the kennel at the Lount remains untouched.

I'll check with the wardens tomorrow morning that we're still on for Wednesday and will contact everyone in the Search Party to confirm arrangements. I was getting depressed about the weather changing, but maybe a bit of rain will make him hole up in a copse rather than go wandering, so the dogs can root him out. Fingers and paws crossed...............

Thursday, 2 April 2009


All quiet on the Western front.
Bananas untouched last night (typical).
Thanks to those who've volunteered for Wed morning next week.
In response to generous "Anonymous" with your comment/question below: at the moment the strategy could change at the last minute so it's probably only fair for us to conscript in local people. We need 12-20 people and have around 15 already. Any more than that would be quite a coordination issue. We (the 3 dog wardens and Tim and I) only have 3 hours available on Wed so with the briefing and the "flush out" plus grabbing lunch before our afternoon commitments we won't cope with a team of more than 20.
Therefore we'd prefer that cross posting to any other dog sites was reserved at the moment just for Sky publicity. After all we don't know that this black lab is a) living wild and not just a local dog (although we've done house to house enquiries and all sightings have been from reliable local sources) and b) that it's Sky. We could, of course, be barking up the wrong tree (no pun intended!) and therefore the wider the publicity the better.

Thanks to all who keep emailing and texting. I'm having a "down" day today (Ffion) but everyone's support is fantastic. I am cheered up by a new creature that won't leave my side at the moment. Mrs Duck has recognised me as a soft touch for food. Mr Duck is always 18 inches behind her. This is the 3rd year they've camped out in our pond by our house at this time of year. It's no substitute for my dog by my side but still brings a smile to my face. As did the sighting, yesterday evening, of a barn owl checking out our nesting box, to rear its young. And great soap opera of Mr and Mrs Kestrel challenging him - they've had their eye on it and used it last year. And yes - I always wanted to be a vet not a doctor, but wasn't bright enough to get 3 A's at A-level!

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Strategy time

Forgive the long blog today: we are motivated by 2 stories. One of Rollo - I'll post it at the end - who has safely been recovered after a 2-month holiday out in the wild. The other of a dog our local dog wardens remember, who they eventually tracked to an area and after a game of patience, "flushed out" of his hiding. There was a breath taking moment when he was about to flee then his owner called his name. Something appeared to "switch" in his head and he came running, as if "mummy, mummy, where've you been?"
You can see where this is leading.
Yesterday no news. Today no news.
Well there's still the mystery of the disappearing bananas from Pete & Bren's so I'll digress for a moment if you will forgive me. After bananas going from a bowl by their gate several nights in a row (except one night when the dog biscuit and meat went and the banana stayed) we set up our motion sensored infra-red camera last night. Result: 4 out of 6 pieces of banana went between 22.05 and 22.20 and the camera picked up a moth and disregarded the banana eater. Aaarghh!
Tim has played with the sensitivity threshold and the field and we'll try again tonight.
Oh and yesterday, Ffion and Tori took Plod, Jane's border collie who is in season and who Black Labrador was sniffing up to on Monday, out for a walk in the area to scent a lot. Ffion is now known as the Collie pimp, and intends to put tinted glass in the Jeep and wear more Bling.
Meanwhile, going back to Monday, Ann our dog warden summonsed Michelle, a neighbouring council's dog warden, and Ollie the out of hours dog warden on Monday and all 3 patiently surveyed the hot zone all afternoon with no success. Thanks to both Ollie and Michelle, who have no contractual reason to help us!
With the bit between their teeth they returned this afternoon. Pat who owns Ben, a friend of Sky's, met Tim and Ben was brought to our house (which he knows), his nose forced into an unwashed blanket of Sky's, and frog-marched out to the hot zone to see if he reacted to any area.
Ollie's dog was given the same treatment, and showed an interest in an area under a fallen tree, which Tim has always thought would make a cosy den.
But basically after an afternoon of patrolling and mulling over the situation. No sign of Sky, but with heads put together there is a strategy planned for next Wed morning.
All volunteers are welcomed for the "flush out Sky from his hidey hole" morning. Lunch will be provided Chez Coats (pizza).
We aim to meet on Lount Lane then disperse, some keeping sentry with binoculars from their cars, and others on foot. We will walk through the area and see if we can disturb him, with the aim being 1) identification and 2) (ideally) getting a Mummy Mummy success.
Tim and Ffion have swapped morning shifts for the evening (which pleased a colleague whose wedding anniversary is that evening).
In the interim, the camera will keep rolling until Banana Eater is snapped.
I can't get excited, because excitement so far has resulted in the equal and opposite force of Disappointment.
And finally, as they say at the end of the news, here's a happy story to end with. Thanks to Dawn Hughes for emailing us.
She heard of Sky's story through doglost.co.uk - which is the best website, and we have made a donation to. Please consider doing so. They have been very supportive to us.
Here it goes:
Hi there, Just wanted to say that I have been following your search for your dog having come across it on dogslost. My dogs brother went missing on 7th Jan 08 having slipped his harness outside his house and he just bolted. To this day we have no idea why! He was super friendly with people and dogs so it remains a mystery. Anyway we put posters up everywhere. He was spotted the same day miles from home. From then on despite hundreds of posters and newspaper articles and searchs we heard nothing! I am sad to say we even began to give up hope. Resigned to the fact he was either involved in a RTA and gone off to die somewhere or even have been stolen out the area. Out the blue last week Helen his owner got an unexpected phonecall!! Rolo had been found and was with a local rescue. He was only traced to her by his microchip!! They had no idea he was a 'lost' dog. Rolo the previously happy go lucky dog had been straying unspotted for over 2 MONTHS. He was skin and bones. A local couple had spotted him roaming (only at night) in some fields behind their home. The dog wardon didnt want to know as he only showed his face out of hours (this is despite the fact they knew of Rolos disappearence and being a blue merle cross who looks like a hyena is highly unique) Perservence on their part, feeding him every night payed off and 2 weeks later they managed to trap him in their home where a local rescue were called!! Cue the phonecall we had all been waiting for!! ROLO was reunited!!! How he remained unseen for so long is a mystery. Why he shyed from humans is a mystery. What ever the reasons he is now home where he deserves!!! He survived the ice, snow and artic temperatures!!! I thought this story may give you hope!! IT ONLY TAKES ONE PHONE~CALL!!!!

Monday, 30 March 2009

The Hot Zone was red hot this morning

The first really positive news in 6 weeks - black lab running around fields at the Barton end of the Green Lane (the same old place) this morning - reported by Jane who owns 7 border collies, has seen him more times than anyone else (from her house), and has a bitch on heat at the moment. He came sniffing up to the fence where the bitch is. Although Sky is neutered, the experts say that he will still be semi-interested in a bitch on heat.
Ffion scrambled from work yet again. No sign.
On arriving there (me, Geoff from down our road, Pete from along that bit of lane and Ann the dog warden) we discover Andy the farmer who'd seen him twice this morning - once when he was on horseback and described him as timid, running for cover by the hedge, and running off as soon as he saw him. Then a while later when Andy was putting fertiliser on the field with his tractor, saw the same dog in the same place running around. Nearby was a council worker doing something with the road who'd also seen him running around.
The description was medium build, and not close enough to see a scar on the back (or not). The council worker thought he had something blue around his neck but neither Jane nor Andy saw this. We know from experience how unreliable collars etc are, so that didn't get us down too much.
Ann stayed out all afternoon and called upon 2 dog wardens from neighbouring boroughs who have no responsibility to this area but have the bit between their teeth! They also stayed out all afternoon, for which we are very grateful.
Meanwhile Pete and Bren's bananas in the dog bowl have disappeared for 6 nights on the trot.
So putative plans are:
1. Get a motion sensored camera up on the bowl to see what's eating the food (we captured a badger there before, but it always left the banana). If it's a black lab, we can try night after night enticing him towards the house / their dog kennel / a trap.
2. Take Jane's bitch out for a walk to do some scenting in the area - Ffion will do this tomorrow afternoon
3. Patrol the area some more. Ann and the other 2 wardens can do this on Wednesday, aided and abetted by Pat our housekeeper who has Ben, who was a friend of Sky's. Ben can do some tacking and scenting
4. Consider "flushing out" the area with 10+ people lined up, walking the 2 miles almost in a line, including the various copses. High risk strategy - may frighten him off. Probably won't catch up. However may mean that with binoculars we can confirm if it really is him.
This is all very encouraging, yet exhasting. With Tim working till 10pm tonight I rang Jon & Shelley (with missing Bracco Jacob) for mutual therapy. Their saga is dragging on, for the possible "man with Jacob" in an area an hour from their home. I think we all felt better after a chat!
I also had a lovely email from someone who's friend's dog has just turned up in very similar circumstances, having gone missing 7th Jan. I have emailed her back to ask permission to publish it for you all to read and be cheered up by. I am awaiting a reply.
All for now!

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Groundhog day

We arrived back home in Britain Sunday night after a lovely holiday. It was the total escapism we really needed and we had a lovely time.
We were sad not to be greeted by a big, licky, hairy, black thing jumping all over us though.
Geoff & Angela had done a sterling job manning the phones and logging all events, although calls were few and far between, and not very promising.
Still we felt refreshed, ready in some ways to "move on", spring in the air, resigning ourselves to the idea that we could get a call from a vet or rescue centre at any time to say they'd scanned a microchip and it was Sky.
Yesterday morning we were setting off to work 07.15 and the first call came in - Battram Woods where Sky went several times a week, near the car park. Reliable informant - dog walkers. Ffion said a hurried goodbye to G&A who looked on sympathetically, half wishing (I'm sure) that the call had come in the day before.
Into the Jeep, Satnav on to do handsfree mobile, flyers at the ready, work high heels switched for wellies. Then just as I was pulling into the car park, another call this time from Market Bosworth - a black lab on the loose near the primary school.
Tim set sail - quick goodbye to G&A (!) - but neither of us came up with anything apart from 1 other sighting in Battram, a mile away and too soon after the car park sighting, which Ffion thinks belonged to another dog walker (having accosted several on her rounds).
I felt guilty for my feelings of "oh no, here we go again" and felt like I was betraying my little boy, as we hurried (late) to work where 100s of emails, piles of post and lots of patients would be waiting.
Didn't get home till 8pm - having required 4 coffees and a Red Bull to get through the afternoon's jet lag!
Just now, another call from the same area of Market Bosworth, from yesterday evening. A black labrador cowering on a lady's drive, wouldn't be approached, and described as slight and timid. She didn't recall a scar when she noticed our poster this morning which reminded her about Sky. The dog had no collar - but Sky can wriggle loose of his (deliberately so he doesn't get tangled in things).
So I'm off out again, just before my late shift. The suitcases remain half empty on the floor and the pile of post mostly unopened.
Our thoughts also go out to Jon & Shelley, who are having a difficult time at the moment - more details on their blog

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

A quiet time

Little to report. Geoff and Angela are mannning the control centre, but no new events to report. Feeding stations still untouched and no new sightings to track down. Once home, we might have a another round of general publicity in the weekly newspapers, perhaps covering a wider area, in case Hot Zone dog is leading us up the wrong path.
Our friends who have emigrated here to new Zealand have a collie and a greyhound, so we are getting a good fix of playing on the beach with Fly (their collie, named after Sky, and who was his best friend) and Bella - trouble is I keep calling 'Sky' instead of 'Fly' and making Ffion sad.
Anyway, we were swimming with dolphins yesterday, so Ffion had a great big smile on her face all evening!
Back home on Sunday night.

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

3 little factoids

Tim & Ffion here again, logging on for the first time in NZ.
Geoff & Angela, Pete & Bren are doing a sterling job in our absence. 3 things to report:
Black dog with scar on back sighted in/nr Kirkby Mallory. In the end G&A took the photo of Sky showing his scar to show the informant, who said it definitely wasn't Sky.
A caller from Houghton on the Hill, describing a blue collar. Said she'd keep an eye out and call again if another sighting. G&A rightly took the decision to just wait and see on that one (it was pretty vague and many miles away).
Then yesterday 4 black legs seen through a hedge on the edge of Pete & Bren's paddock, by their neighbour, coinciding with their own dogs barking a lot. However there's apparently a black fox in the area, so not sure on that one. P&B are leaving food out anyway but it's not gone so far.
NB to all the local Sky Army:
One thing we forgot to mention just before we left - a person called Roger kindly phoned to say his black lab has just had an operation on its back, and he often walks in the Sutton Wharf area. He had already been accosted several times, poor man, but at least had the common sense to let us know!
That's all for now.
Ffion and Tim

Sunday, 8 March 2009

Hello from Japan

This is Tim and Ffion in Narita airport, Tokyo! We have had no mobile access for 2 days so had to log on to check the blog and say hello Geoff and Angela - we are still alive. We are about to leave for Auckland where the phones should work.
(Note from Tim - the operation to get Ffion onto the plane went well. Only two securuty guards and one stewardess got wounded in the process, so I think that we all got off pretty lightly.)
In Tokyo the only dogs are lap-pooches, so we thought we were safe. However there's a poster up everywhere with a black labrador on it. Tim pointed out that Rachel or Tori must have got here before us ...................
All for now.
Ffion and Tim

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Handing over to Geoff and Angela

OK - time to get a holiday!
We are off in the morning. Geoff and Angela are staying at our house, in case we get any calls.
They have been drilled in the Sky Response! Maps at the ready, checklist of questions for callers, and contact numbers for the Sky Army. All we ask is to keep track of possible sightings, so we can rethink strategy on our return.
We will keep the food fresh in the kennel off the Lount, just to see if we can attract the mystery black labrador back, to stay for a while.
We did in fact have another sighting today - also in the Hot Zone. This time back up near Brook Cottage just north of Odstone. A horse rider (again) saw a black lab going from the disused railway into the maize field, scene of the very first Hot Zone sighting, and 2 others since. This is all about 2 miles from the Lount area (which was a week ago). As ever - running, and too far away to see whether or not it had a scar. Same old story! With sightings as infrequent as this, all we can do is hope the lure of the food will finally work, or some fluke like a farmer catches the dog in an outbuilding.
Fingers and paws crossed!
We will update the blog while we're away, every so often.
Thanks so much to everyone who supports us and reads the blog, and all those who have trundled the countryside by foot or by car. We really appreciate how brilliant everyone has been. Good luck Jon & Shelley - we'll be following your blog while away.
Ffion and Tim

Monday, 2 March 2009

the countdown begins

Yikes - departing for Japan and New Zealand Thursday morning, not packed, not on top of urgent things at work, and need to set out Sky strategy for Angela and Geoff who are staying at our house, with the back-up Sky Army (as someone else described it, and sounds reassuring to us).
No calls today. No food gone from the kennel, still, but Tim is sure that this is the right strategy so if mystery Black Lab has a large territory and roams with infrequent sightings, then at least if he finds food at a crossing point one time, he may return, then frequent sightings can take us to laying a trap and finally solving this mystery. Therefore we will ask Angela & Geoff to keep refreshing the food while we're away.
A few people have mentioned national or at least regional press / TV. Probably not a good idea when we're just about to depart, but certainly worth considering once we're back. We still refuse to think he may be lying somewhere, unfound. At the end of the day all parts of Leicestershire countryside are fairly well patrolled really.
We still miss him so - every mealtime, morning, arriving home at night, working in the garden - all the time really.

Sunday, 1 March 2009

3 months in

God, 1st March. 3 months since Sky disappeared. Anyway Happy St David's day / Gwyl Ddewi to all my fellow countrymen.
So on to today's events. Private Detective Tori crawled the Merrylees Lane early this morning looking for Man With 3 Dogs One Of Which Is New. Nil points. Rachel and Ffion therefore took Charlie for a walk in same territory mid-afternoon and didn't see MW3DOOWIN but chatted to a farmer Tim and Ffion met yesterday who said that said man was Mick from the 2nd house down who's looking after his daughter's black lab. Well at least that was sorted.
At 18.10 Ffion got a call from a lady in Sheepy Magna (great placename) who'd just found a black lab and thought of us straight away with all the publicity plus so-an-so who knows so-and-so who's married to Emma, a nurse who works with us. Described as timid and ribs sticking out, Ffion just had to go, although there was no scar or grey on muzzle. Tim is in work and still doesn't know all this BTW. So Ffion met Jet (as he turned out to be named) who looked just like Sky did 3 years ago. He devoured a bowl of food and the lady's husband through a series of phone calls tracked him down as missing, while we were preparing to ring the Council to get Ollie the out-of-hours dog warden (who's lovely by the way - 1-man band who covers night in night out for the whole of Leicestershire. Deserves a knighthood).
So Jet, working gun dog on his first proper outing today, was reunited with his owner. When I explained how I was involved the young lad said "oh you mean Sky?". Even out there, Sky is famous.
So Ffion returned, a bit sad, checking the kennel on the way back (in the dark). We saw a hare there this morning. This evening Venus is at its brightest for many years apparently. It certainly looked bright to me. The moon and the Plough guided me to the kennel, with its food untouched.
Bren & Pete's dog food has gone 2 nights in a row but the banana was left. This is probably Mr Badger, as caught on camera previously. Sky would never leave a banana.

Saturday, 28 February 2009

Nowt stranger than folk

Today we decided to home in on farms in the area between the Hot Zone and Botcheston, where there are just a handful of unaccounted black lab sightings. Ffion remarked to Tim, after seeing one with American type fencing, that it's funny that this section of the Wild West of Leicestershire reminded her of South Carolina (where her parents live) where there are very impoverished looking homesteads, but she'd never really noticed before becoming Mrs Observant post-Sky disappearance. We chatted to nice farmers, got nowhere, and left a flyer on the gatepost of one such property with barbed wire and no access.
An hour later the phone rang and excerpts from the conversation include "they're attracted to my place, stray dogs" "I saw a black labrador yesterday but thought it belonged to the gipsies who've put stables next to my fields" "he'll be alive - the chicken farm throws out carcasses all the time, he'd love that, they don't like the sanitised meat us humans put out for them" and in and amongst this wandering conversation "sometimes I keep the strays for a bit - no point taking the to kennels, they charge you know" and (honestly) "they dump dead dogs on this lane all the time you know. I buried 3 dogs last week. In plastic bags often, they are". Ffion maintained a calm voice, ascertained none of the 3 dogs was a black labrador, but established that the man may have seen a black lab a couple of times in the last few months.
This inspired Tori and Ffion to head back out and do more research. The black lab from yesterday did indeed belong to the stables people. All other farms knew about Sky but hadn't seen anything - although they thought now was a good time, now they're getting back out on the land after quite a harsh winter.
Ho hum!
Oh yes - lovely footage from the kennel camera of a yellow lab scoffing Sky's food and being dragged off by 4 young walkers. Amazing how it's always the labs find the food. Well all except one....