Suzy Tompsett, Phoenix friend and foster carer writes about her beloved missing dog, Bonnie.
Twelve days ago, our little terrier suddenly disappeared into thin air and from that moment our world stood still.
Despite an immediate search of the immediate area and the roads around by several people, there was no sign of her at all. Despite a few brief possible sightings which we could never confirm, there was no trace of her whatsoever and she seemingly just faded into the night.
One day I will tell the full story of those nightmare days and nights, but this is not about that. It’s about our having Bonnie back, alive and well, in our lives and we thank every person, force, star, stroke of luck or anything else which helped her to come back to us.
This post is about this wonderful day when she came home.
We only know for certain the beginning of the story and this final chapter of her return. We had some tiny clues about what happened in between, but most is guess work and maybe some instinctive intuition. It is possible that Bonnie will tell us a little of her adventures in the coming days, but the rest we can only surmise.
There have been the most horrific moments of despair during this time, the worst being the call to the poor fox terrier in the lavoir. It was hard to be sure it wasn’t her, but all along there has been a little voice letting me know she was there still somewhere.
A couple of days ago, this voice was becoming weaker and I knew without doubt we had to do something quickly. My appeal for help brought forth a small army of incredible people and we flooded the internet as of course you are well aware. I feel sure that this and your amazing response, paid a huge part in what happened next.
Late last night I received THE call, the one I had been waiting for day and night and was fearing would never come. A lovely voice said, ‘Hello Suzy, we have your dog. We have Bonnie here with us.’ I never doubted this for a second, I didn’t ask the questions I should have. I just knew.
Not only that she was just five minutes away. When the shaking subsided and was able to find at least some of my lost senses, I got in the car and drove to the given address. Only then did I consider it may not be her and I had broken my rule of keeping calm and open minded.
I rang the bell, the door opened and there she was. Our Bonnie, as plump as ever, a little grubby but other than that, much as she was twelve days ago. I can’t begin to describe that moment, but a few seconds later I was hugging complete strangers, who were almost as delighted as I.
Initially, Bonnie looked shocked and fearful and like myself couldn’t believe her eyes. It took a while to accept it was actually me but then she came and started to tear the fabric from my skirt, whimpering quietly as she did so. Though seemingly strange behaviour, I know what she was doing. When she had been left, and I returned home she would always welcome me with a piece of my clothing of if not available, her own bed. She had none of these of course, so she took the next best thing, the clothes I was wearing!
So how come she was there? She was found deep in a stream very near the house of Sandy and John who lived between the Health centre and the Old Station. Sandy heard her splashing in the water, it was late and probably getting dark so went to investigate. Now Sandy and John must be the only couple in Eymet who didn’t know anything about Bonnie as they don’t have Face book and hadn’t seen the posters. We had also posted fliers in that road, as you may recall the first possible sighting of Bonnie was a near brush with death on the main road under a truck. This was around 9.30 pm on the evening she went missing, and we can now be pretty sure this was her. But how did we miss this particular house?
After this, she was then seen heading in the direction of the Old Station at great speed. She was followed but, in her panic, was soon was soon out of sight. We now can be pretty sure that was Bonnie on the road. But she was never seen in that area again until last night, despite daily searches.
So, to continue, Sandy saw it was a small dog and gently helped her out of the stream and so very kindly took her into her nearby house. They had no idea who she was at that point but saw she had a collar and an ID disc which they couldn’t clearly read. The dog was very hungry too and devoured the food left for the hedgehogs and looked for more. She then gobbled up the cat’s food they gave her. I think they realised this was no normal local wanderer so they asked their neighbour for her thoughts, who thankfully knew EVERYTHING and knew it was Bonnie straight away. The rest you know.
So those are the facts. But what had happened during those twelve days? Well there are many possibilities but also some very strange events which I have not previously mentioned. I am going to share these and it may strike a chord in someone’s memory and we may find more pieces of the puzzle. For now, there are more questions than answers so let’s start with what else we know.
On the night of her going missing she was seen going at great speed towards the cemetery area. My belief is she kept running in sheer panic until she could run no more. Our most recent sighting was three days ago where she was seen on the edge of a cornfield about 3 miles out of Eymet on the old road to Lauzan. It was a very positive sighting and when we arrived there, we looked at photos and the people were very confident it was Bonnie. But she was not seen again at that location despite constant searches there day and night, with food, trails, clothing left at where she had been seen. They described her as being exhausted and lost. So, a possible theory was that she had bolted in that direction and stayed there. There was cover, food sources and water nearby. Then when she knew we were looking for her, she followed the direction we went to the place where she bolted. Quite plausible.
But there was another sighting which doesn’t fit with this. The first person who sighted her and witnessed the near accident and had followed her, saw her again a few days later and was totally convinced it was the same dog! But this was in a totally different location. This was outside a house along the Route des cotes just before the the 30 signs as the road nears Eymet. He was cycling by and saw her clearly under a tree, again exhausted and soaking wet. The river was the opposite side of the lane. Had she returned to the park where she was lost and swam down the river in an attempt to get home? I am very sure she wouldn’t have attempted to cross the road again, but following the river under the bridge would take her to this location. Remember she doesn’t know this area at all except for the park itself.
If she was following her nose, she was actually not far away from us and if she had gone further down that lane for about a mile she would have got home. So, what happened to her next? If she had been in that area all that time, why were there no more sightings?
All of these locations had been under constant scrutiny by us day and night and also by so many of you too. We left trails several times after the house sighting to home but the trail was cold.
As well as the searches by foot and car, there had been a river search by boat and overnight stops. And much much more, which is why as time went by we began to fear the worst.
When that happens, you have to consider more drastic options which were next in our plan of campaign. But also, you become more desperate, you become more vulnerable. But also prepared to try anything. And now this is where it becomes even more surreal.
I had been contacted by a lady who told me she was nearby and would be be back soon and she was OK. She said she had a picture in her mind with Bonnie in it and described it to me. It was very detailed. I listened but my logical brain was still just functioning, and anyone could have looked at google earth and found the locations I had posted. I certainly didn’t to waste valuable time chasing rainbows, but the thought remained.
The night before yesterday I did my usual tour of all the above places and made tracks home feeling very despondent indeed. I returned to the Old Station and as it was late, I thought there may be a small chance. Suddenly my heart stopped. Not Bonnie no, but the picture the lady had described to me of where she was. It was the location of the old railway bridge and most of the things she had described were just as she said. She had suggested she may be hiding under the old bridge. Well there was no way I could look down there in the darkness. But I got out of the car and talked to her quietly in case she was there. It was at that moment too I got that feeling we had to do something quickly or it would be too late.
The stream where she was found last night was about 250 metres from this bridge.
So here of course, imagination can run riot! But let’s get back to the facts. Bonnie is in extremely good condition despite her plight! She was hungry, exhausted and grubby. But still plump and healthy and not anything like I would expect. No sign of injury, no ticks or anything else. Tramautised yes, to be expected. So, what happened?? She was also a little worried about being behind closed doors.
Had she been with someone kind all this time and heard us looking for her and came to find us?
Had someone kept her in order to wait until we were so desperate that we would pay a large sum for her return? Were they spooked by the incredible reaction from so many people and dumped her back where they found her?
Were the travellers involved?
But for now, we have her safe and well and our world is fitting itself back together at last. That’s all that matters.
But without you all out there, it may well have been a very different story.
At when we hit the moments of total despair your messages of support and hope kept me going.
Thank you doesn’t even touch it. My gratitude to you is immense.
Bless each and every one of you xxxxx