The search for missing dog Charlie ends in heartbreak at the farm on the M62

We’re just about getting used to the joy of electric gates at the end of our drive, despite them having a few teething problems.

It is a sad end to the week at Stott Hall Farm
It is a sad end to the week at Stott Hall Farm

No more battling with the padlock whilst getting beaten down by wind and rain.

The only argument now is over who gets to push the ‘gate zapper’ usually from John-William. I fully expect the initials HMP to be added to our Stott Hall Farm sign, such is the design and appearance of them.

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But as Paul points out, they’re not there to look pretty and despite looking like the entrance to Alcatraz, they serve a purpose.

A lady appeared in our yard last week clutching a small flyer with details about a missing dog. John-William listened to her story about her friend’s dog, who by now had not been seen for almost two weeks. He’d clearly been touched by the plight of the missing dog, named Charlie, and assured her he would help.

Later that evening after searching till dark, he was back studying the flyer and querying over the word ‘reward’. I told him it was perhaps a small amount of money if you see or find the dog as the owner is quite simply desperate for any help.

He asked no more on the subject but the following morning he set off with his ‘sniffer dog’ Wilma in the hope of finding Charlie. He returned excited, his cheeks glowing from the cold. Wilma had definitely picked up the scent and was getting close to finding the missing dog.

Over a sausage sandwich that morning I expressed my concern over his motives for his time spent looking, but he insisted he just wanted to help, although a box of chocolates as reward would be most welcomed.

Despite me telling him that as the days passed, the chances of finding Charlie were slim, he kept up his search. Every morning and every evening he insisted on me stopping on Deanhead whilst he got out and shouted, his voice lost in the wind.

Following a possible siting close to our farm, he upped his search, adamant that he was going to be the one to find him. The flyer was repeatedly read, checking and double checking that the owner’s number was definitely on there. I too found myself searching, staring out across the bleak wintry landscape, hoping that he’d found somewhere to shelter.

The devastating news came on John-William’s birthday. Charlie’s body had been found, quite some distance from our farm in a built-up area. I waited until the following day to break the news to the little guy. I was unsure what his response would be. He is well accustomed to death and accepting of life’s cruel blows.

He was silent for some time. Eventually, he asked if he could ring Charlie’s owner. He needed to tell him how sorry he was and that he’d tried his best. I persuaded him to leave it a day or two as Charlie’s owner would be struggling with his own sadness.

He agreed and set off with Wilma once more, but this time with no wind in his sails.