That moment when you think you’ve lost something you love for good, but with the help of some amazing people, it comes back to you ....along with your faith in humanity.
On Wednesday the 29th of July, after having wonderful day of completing a round of four more Munros (Carn Gorm, Meall Garbh, Carn Mairg and Creag Mhor), Chinook went AWOL on the final descent from Creag Mhor.
After spending 2 hours searching for her, nightfall was setting in, so I headed down to the tiny village of Glen Lyon for help. I couldn’t have been more fortunate with the door I knocked on; a Mr. and Mrs. Brown, their son Fraser, who had been staying with his parents during the Covid outbreak, and their two gorgeous dogs Miyah and Missy. I had only intended to ask if they had seen her or any sign of her, however, what actually happened, was Mrs. Brown posted a plea on her local Facebook group and Fraser headed back up to Crag Mhor combing the hill with me until 2am, when we had to admit defeat for the night, at which point they offered me food and coffee, drew me a hot bath and Fraser gave me his bed to sleep in, while he took the sofa. Their littlest dog Miyah also made a concentrated effort to comfort me, by offering her belly to scratch, incessantly. I happily accepted.
At 7am, following a very disjointed and fitful few hours of sleep, I woke to a massive coffee and very welcome breakfast, then Fraser headed back up Creag Mhor to keep searching, while I combed the village and shared her details on social media. I don’t think I’ve ever felt more supported. Every door I knocked ended with locals throwing on their wellies and combing the forest and hills... some in their pyjamas still! Even the resident farmer/landowner, who I’d been told was notoriously anti-hillwakers / dogs off-lead, surveyed the perimeters of his farmlands to see if she was lurking nearby.
Once all the houses close to where she went missing were checked, I sent a plea to Katie McCandless Thomas, from the Facebook group ‘Missing Pets, Perth and Kinross Scotland.’ Within a few minutes of messaging her, she was on the phone with me and spent over an hour offering consolation, reassurance, practical guidance and even the use of equipment like thermal heat cameras and drones.
Not five minutes after putting the phone down and Katie posting on her group page, Chinook was found... nowhere near where she went missing, or we were searching!
Somehow, she made her way over the River Lyon up to a little steading on the other side of the Glen about 3 miles from where she was lost, put her paws on the window and barked at the residents for attention... and most probably food.
We immediately phoned them and drove over to collect her. She was soaked through and riddled with ticks, but they had her fed and wrapped in a duvet to dry and warm her.
I will never forget the feeling of seeing her face as I got out of the car and called her over. It had not occurred to me until that moment, that dogs could also feel disbelief and complete relief simultaneously, just as we humans do. It was mutual. I spent a full two minutes just hugging and scratching her as she whimpered, aggressively curling herself into my embrace ...and knocking me onto the wet muddy ground in the process, because she’s actually massive.
Finally I snapped out of my happy trance and stood to thank the stellar group of people who’d taken her in and contacted us. They regaled Fraser and I of the shock of waking up to a wolf at their window, laughing that it was a good job she had her harness on, or they’d have been locking the doors instead of offering to feed her!
With my hiking buddy back at my side and everything now right in the world, I again, thanked all those involved for their efforts in helping me find Chinook and we made the two hour drive back to Inverness, where the Floof and I got a much needed 14 hour sleep. I even let her in my bed ...just this once.
But first, I ordered a GPS tracker collar.
Massive thanks again to each and every person who made an effort in our reunion, event if it was just a share on social media - it all resulted in her getting home safe. Also a big thank you to the anonymous Instagram donor of £115 towards her new GPS tracker. I guess dogs really do bring out the best in us humans...