A SUMMER stroll on the South Downs turned into a six-day nightmare for Lurgashall villagers Anthea and David Martin-Jenkins when their two-year-old Labrador went missing on a walk at Didling.
“One moment May was with us and suddenly she was not and the normally very obedient dog did not respond to any calling or whistling,” said Anthea.
The walkers split up and searched, telling everyone in the sparsely populated area that their dog was missing.
Up very early the next morning, the search continued with Anthea contacting the West Dean Estate which helped by spreading the word
“May is wary of men so the chance of being caught by one was unlikely,” said Anthea.
“Every day we went out with hope of finding her receding hourly as the sun shone hotly and knowing water is rare on the Downs.”
At last, there was a more definite sighting confirmed at Didling Church, where the walk had started, by Karen Novak, from Elsted.
“In a series of coincidences she spoke to someone who talked to someone else who knew the dog was missing,” Anthea told the Observer. “We rushed off but by then it was a few hours later and we couldn’t find May.”
Karen put food and water down in the churchyard and Anthea added a shirt she had been wearing during the afternoon.
Following advice from the flock manager, they returned to the church at dawn, and as they drove up May rushed down the steps to greet them.
“I never believed it possible we would see her again,” Anthea said.
“In all that heat I thought she would have died. I can’t thank enough all who kept an eye open for her, rung us, passed on messages and helped in every way. As you so often hear, go back to where the walk started and the dog might have done so too. May was so pleased to be home, hungry and thirsty and also covered in ticks.
“I hope this will give hope to anybody else who loses a dog to tell everyone and not to give up hope.”