As some of you may know from following my Instagram stories we have been helping a lovely lady called Liz find her dog, Scruff, who went missing on Tuesday. 6 whole days we was missing. It has been such an experience for many of us but this is my account of the most overwhelming week we’ve had in a long time. I know some people won’t get this at all, but I love animals and if my dog was missing we would want as much help as we gave – treat people as you expect to be treated and all that!
So it all started when we took our dogs out for a walk on Tuesday evening, we bumped into a lady at Riverside park in St Neots who was sticking posters to bins/trees. We stopped and asked if everything was ok, which was where we met Liz. She explained that Scruff had bolted on his walk with the dog walker at lunchtime that day and asked if we could keep our eyes open – which of course we did. We went to bed Tuesday night thinking about Scruff and woke up Wednesday morning thinking about him too.
We took the dogs for a walk on Wednesday evening at Priory Park and we bumped into Liz again. She explained that she had been out walking pretty much all day, putting up posters and trying to find him. It was at that point our stomachs turned, the horror really sunk in. Where the night before we had thought “he will turn up” to the very real feeling of OMG where is he? We swapped numbers and I said I would help look for Scruff the next day, my day off. The plan was I would walk from Priory Park to Little Paxton, to Hail Weston which is where Scruff lives.
The hottest day of the year! I took the kiddies to their Summer camp and then got a bag of goodies ready to take on my walk. Since I saw Liz the night before Scruff had been spotted at the Potton Road end of St Neots, so I said I would meet her over there. I had water, dog biscuits, treats, a lead and Liz gave me the all important poster. It was so amazing, Jackie Fitzpatrick from The Business Printing Company in St Neots, printed off hundreds of posters at no charge to Liz. So kind.
I spent a couple of hours searching for the little Scruff. I walked along the railway lines in the blistering heat, thinking to myself I can’t complain that poor little dog is hiding somewhere sitting in it too – it keeps you going. I walked around houses, in alley ways behind houses and garage blocks. Places I never knew existed. I saw bowl after bowl of water outside peoples homes. It really melts your heart hearing all of these people coming together to help a dog they do not even know! That evening Deano went out to help in the search, obviously due to the small children we couldn’t both go out searching for him. Deano went out on his bike and tried to look for him. It then all went quiet, no sightings. It left a horrible feeling in all of our stomachs. By this point there was quite a team building of people who were searching for Scruff.
I woke up to find an empty side of the bed, Deano had got up at 5am to cycle around the spots where Scruff had been sighted. By the time he came back there had been a new sighting at Pocket Park. So out went the team with posters and talking to every dog walker they could. We had to obviously work and look after the children but at every opportunity Deano was out searching. There was a sighting of a small dog on the A1 in the early evening, so it was all systems go to see if it was Scruff – it was a false alarm. So everyone went back to Pocket Park.
Deano spent the evening circling the park on his bike. Like the search team it was a case of going round in circles, going back on the routes and keeping a look out in the bushes surrounding the pathways. Another night drew to a close where Scruff was still hiding.
Another morning where I woke up to Deano gone, he was up at 5am looking for Scruff around Pocket Park. He got home and we all had breakfast and then at 9am Scruff was spotted at hole 2 at Wyboston Golf Course. At this point we set up a FB message group so people who were actively searching for Scruff could contact each other quickly, we could be a bit more co-ordinated. We had to cover all bases. So I took to the social media and group task, making sure people knew where to look and what to do – answering peoples comments and sharing updates as by this point the Facebook Page had quite some following.
Everything went on stand by that morning. The kids were ignored, my own animals were ignored, I was late for all the things I had planned. We desperately wanted to find Scruff. Deano went to Wyboston and walked around the fields up to the golf course, people were walking in Pocket Park still just incase and we had to co-ordinate the golf course. Thankfully they were really kind and let us on to the golf course, they zoomed Liz to hole 2 where the sighting was immediately but Scruff had gone into hiding again. The photo had given us all a boost though, so it kind of pushed us to be more co-ordinated.
As the day grew on we were all sharing locations in the FB message group, now called Scruff’s Extraordinary Searchers! I was drawing maps, marking off locations and where we had people standing. So I knew where to direct people when they got to the course. We were not allowed a lot of people on the course, this was the hardest part – we wanted to tell the public what was going on but had to be careful as we didn’t want the golf course inundated with hundreds of people. So hard.
The kids and I went out around Pocket Park just incase he had retreated back the way he came – we didn’t see him but we did see every dog walker who said they were out looking for Scruff. I was amazed. The kids were stopping everyone and showing them the poster – it was amazing to see them working together. Searching the bushes and helping each other to get to the tough spots. I am really proud of my babies for caring so much about Scruff.
People heard dogs barking around the 15th hole so by then we had spread ourselves out along from 2 to 15. This is the part of the golf course by Ride Leisure. The staff at Ride Leisure were helping as much as they could, the golf club and Waterfront restaurant were all helping too. We had the go ahead to go onto the golf course after the last golfer had tee’d off, so we formulated a plan. We had people walking around all night. Liz was out until the early hours of the morning, getting tiny amounts of sleep then heading back out again. I cannot imagine how exhausted she must be. Saturday night was quiet, but very wet – so it was a little depressing for everyone but we didn’t give up hope. Ride Leisure spotted Scruff on CCTV barking at a cat around 10:30pm but he was gone by the time anyone got to that point. He is a scared dog, so he just wanted to hide.
Sunday morning we woke up to Deano out with the search team. Scruff had been spotted again and so everyone was determined to get him. It was raining and horrible, cold even, but we were all running on adrenaline. I was back on the FB group trying to help where I could, its so hard to sit back and not be out there searching – but I couldn’t leave the kids and I was doing what I do best: using my Project Management skills and social media skills. It helped. Liz had already told me how overwhelmed she was with all the messages and she didn’t know what to do. She couldn’t respond and look for Scruff at the same time – and obviously she wanted to look for Scruff. So I kept the updates on the FB page coming through so people knew what was going on, the public were so interested it was amazing to see the support.
The team had organised cover for all the tee’s and holes throughout the day, they organised provisions so the search team would not go hungry. They stood out there in the rain for most of the day, it was incredible seeing this group of people develop this relationship. The same goal – to get Scruff back to Liz in one piece. Selfless. Kind. Considerate. Animal lovers. It was amazing.
We got through all of Sunday without any more sightings. But as evening fell we had a drone out searching (thanks to Elite UAV), Deano walked with him and it was incredible. We did have a false alarm when they saw something in white pacing around in circles – it turned out to be one of the search team!
We then got another call saying he had been spotted at Priory Park, the other side of St Neots. As we live near Priory Park I was called and asked to get there and check it out – the kids were in their PJs and we got our shoes and coats on, running as fast as our legs would carry us. We got to the park and nothing. No dogs. Only 3 teenagers. I asked them if they had called, they said no. Then two of the search team showed up, we got another call whilst we were together, the 3 teenagers (who were standing about a football pitch away at this point) started shouting and saying incredibly horrible things down the phone. Along the lines of “We hope your dog gets shot”. The kids were then petrified as they started taunting us in the fields. It was horrible and I just couldn’t believe it that they could do that. Another false alarm! I was grateful for Andy from Rainbow Arts & Crafts and Bryony from The Pet Nurse, who came up to the park to make sure the kids and I were safe. Thank you!
Deano got back late that night, the team had been out with the thermal cameras – they could see little Scruff pottering around. This made Liz feel a lot happier as that morning she had seen him looking a little sorry for himself. But still, we all went to sleep knowing he was still out there on his own.
Liz had seen Scruff first thing this morning, he was around the 11th hole at the golf course. About 8:30am Ride Leisure called to say they’d spotted him. Liz’s friend Sonia from the village (who knows Scruff well) went to see if she could spot him. The next thing we know the search team FB message group pings “Liz I have him come quickly”. PING. PING. PING. PING. My messages went crazy. It was the most amazing feeling when the photo came through of Liz and Scruff together.
Sonia’s story of how she got Scruff made us all cry:
Sonia took a stroll along the 4×4 tracks by Ride Leisure, thankfully she had her wellies on as she walked through huge puddles of mud. She came across paw prints and followed them through the watered rut but the paw prints stopped on the other side. So Sonia turned around saying out loud “Oh come on Scruff we want you to come home”. She stopped by a paw print…. Looked up and about 12 foot from where she was standing Scruff popped his head out. She carried on talking with her encouraging tone: “Oh Scruff it’s time to come home, are you coming home” and sure enough he started to walk towards her… they met in the middle and she gave him a great big kiss! He was safe in her arms and a message sent to the group read “Liz I have him come quickly”, just before Sonia slipped in the muddy puddles but she kept hold of that Scruff!
The search group went crazy, we needed proof – that concrete evidence he was safe and then came the photo of Liz and a muddy pawed Scruff. I think every one of the 30+ searchers cried their eyes out. YIPPEE he is safe. He is spending the night at the vets as he was really dehydrated and had a sore paw but he will be OK. Thank goodness.
It’s so bizarre, the search team feel at a loose end. We don’t know what to do with ourselves. We sat eating our dinner tonight saying how bizarre it was that we didn’t have to rush to the FB group or to the golf course.
I don’t think I will ever forget this week. The feeling of togetherness. The search team and the wider public. The messages and comments coming through from people in surrounding Counties, Essex and Sheffield even. It has been completely overwhelming. People have been so kind, they have given up their time to look for Scruff, changing walking routes to help in the search and putting up posters where they are needed.
The core search team have really come together. The emotional rollercoaster seeped through the entire group, we all felt the lows and we definitely all felt the high this morning. This weekend was the crucial time for us, we all worked together. No one getting stroppy with the other, everyone finding a place and working with it. One lady made sandwiches, labelled and packaged and someone got coffees to warm everyone up. Jackie kept the leaflets and posters topped up. Then the army of walkers surrounding the golf course was incredible. The staff on site at Wyboston Lakes. It just makes me want to cry as I cannot handle the emotion and complete feeling of “wow” I feel. These people came together without a care for anything else other than Liz and Scruff. The happiness we felt today was amazing. I spent the first few hours shaking. I wanted to cry but wanted to smile. I didn’t know how to feel.
I cannot wait to meet little Scruff and give him a big treat… what a week! Our little FB group will be in contact for many more weeks to come and a doggy meet up is on the cards too – little Scruff just doesn’t realise how loved he is.
Thank you St Neots. Thank you to the 35,000 + people who have engaged with the comments, photos, likes and shares. He was spotted frequently and it was quickly communicated because of everyone working together. He is home safe and sound before we didn’t give up. Liz can sleep happy tonight knowing her little fluff will be back home tomorrow, safe and sound.
Sweet dreams everyone! I am having an extra large snuggle with my fur babies…