Missing pooch made me appreciate the bond between man and dog

Nick Conrad says helping to look for a missing dog has shown him the bond between owners and their p

Nick Conrad says helping to look for a missing dog has shown him the bond between owners and their pets - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Hunting for a missing dog helped Nick Conrad really appreciate the bond between man and mutt

A dog really is a man's best friend. Last week I witnessed an incident which illustrated the deep relationship between our pets and the public.

I received a distressed phone call from a dear friend who had lost her dog. On a walk the young springer spaniel darted off into the cover crop. After hours of searching the family started to face the reality that their beloved pet was missing.

In support, I put a message on social media and within an hour the post had been viewed by tens of thousands of people. My inbox started to ping with messages from members of the public who wanted to help. Some even offering to jump in their cars to travel several miles to join the search parties. I wondered if the same level of support would be offered if another species of pet went missing? Probably not - there is something unique about man and dog.

In honesty it is not a relationship I've always understood or appreciated. I think dogs are great, but I've never seen them as a 'family member.' I've never really got the comfort, so many clearly glean from a dog cuddling and licking you all over. I struggle to divorce my mind from concerns over hygiene and the literal and metaphorical warmth an owner gets when being lovingly licked.

But last week something changed. I saw firsthand the genuine angst and heartache this family suffered. A mixture of concern and compassion washed over me, in no time I too was laminating 'lost dog' signs and wanting to do everything I could to help. Sadly, this national adoration of our four-legged friends has a darker side. Dog napping is a horrible crime as too are these vile puppy farms.

I of course suspected that the exasperation felt by my friends would turn to grief. Surely a dog who has been missing for such a long time isn't coming home. Well...

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Four days after her disappearance this little springer miraculously reappeared. I'm cynical as to how a dog, who has been missing in muddy fields and woods, just turns up clean and fed without human involvement. I suspect someone took the opportunity to take a beautiful creature, then thought better of it! If the above scenario is true, then I'm grateful for that individual's pang of conscience.

Maybe the power of social media made this little dog too hot to handle. Is this the positive force of Facebook, a medium many are sceptical about? We had expressions of concern from as far afield as Kent and Merseyside. My friend went shopping a few days after this little dog's re-emergence - with dog firmly in tow! A stranger approached her and asked if this was the little creature she had read about online.

For my friends a week of tears and torment turned to relief. Most importantly she is home. She is back where she is so loved. She is fit and healthy. Thank you to all of you who so generously played a part in her safe return.

From those who shared the post, to those who put up a poster, to those who searched the nearby villages and towns. We are all very grateful. But what's more, this story helped me to better understand a dog's (or any pet for that matter) true place is at the heart of a family.