In the meantime I had sent emails with a photo of him to every shelter I could think of, to vets in the area, the animal hospitals, I phoned as many places as I could find numbers for and asked them to be on the lookout for him. I placed an ad on Gumtree, placed alerts on all the online sites I could find. And then finally all I could still do was look for him around the neighbourhood.
When Bruno took off, he was wearing a collar with a tag that had his name as well as our cell number on it so I was hopeful that someone would see the tag and give us a call. Alas, it seems he lost the collar somewhere on his journey because when he was eventually found he was not wearing it.
When the call finally did come on the Wednesday after he disappeared, I nearly fainted! It was a man called Mark from the AACL in Epping and he told me that he was almost sure that a dog that he took in on Monday was my Bruno! He said that he received a call from a man called Kent who owns a wine-farm just up the road from us that he had a stray dog on his farm. Kent said he was about to let his horses out when he saw Bruno lying in the dirt road on his farm. He tried to approach him but Bruno, exhausted and hungry and still very scared, growled at him so he decided against it and called Mark who came to pick him up in due time.
About 5 minutes after Mark called me another lady from the AACL Epping branch phoned me and said that it was definitely Bruno that they had there and she recognised him from the photo that I sent them, down to the floppy ear! That phone call was one of the best phone calls I had ever had! We went and picked him up about an hour after we got the call and I was seriously shocked to see him – he almost did not look like my dog! He was scared and tired and his poor paws were raw from where ever he had been running – the pads had been worn off in places and were bleeding. He was also full of burrs and grass obviously from the fields he ran through before he got to the wine farm. I can only think that the only reason he could not go any further and lay down in that path was because he was dehydrated, hungry and in an enormous amount of pain!
We took him to the vet after we brought him home but the vet said that bandaging his feet would do no good – we had to get him to just take it quiet, and give it time to dry out and heal.
You cannot even begin to imagine the joy of having our baby home at last after living in so much panic and fear for his safety for the last 5 days. The first thing he did after I gave him some food and water was to jump up on his favourite place – our bed – and pass out fast asleep! For the next few days he was really hurting to walk and really lethargic but thanks to TLC and proper foodies he has light back in eyes. I see him looking at me sometimes as if he is wondering why I let him go out in the big cruel world out there all by himself – and I have to say sometimes I feel like I did. Hopefully we can put this absolute disaster behind us and move forward.
There are two things I learnt out of all this however, one is I will never leave them alone at home again on any night that there is any possibility of fire works, and if I absolutely have to, they will be locked inside the house.
Number two, never take things for granted – I never thought of looking for him any further than our immediate suburbs – it seemed highly implausible that he would be at a place like the AACL shelter in Grassy Park – but we found him in Epping! Epping is about 45 minutes drive away from us!
The lesson here is to not assume things. People pick up pets and drop them off where it is convenient for them; there can be a million scenarios as to where a pet might land up so don’t just look for your pet locally – get hold of all of the major shelters everywhere in your area! We were fortunate that the email I sent out was circulated to all of the branches of the shelters that received them but if it was not for that email, I don’t know if I would ever have found Bruno because I would never have thought of phoning Epping! Today Bruno is happily reunited with his mommy and daddy, 2 brothers and a sister but we were very fortunate that our story had a happy ending! I truly wish that for anyone else who has lost a pet.