To those who know our hound, it will come as no surprise to know that once again, he ran away.
Deep in the Polish Masurian Lakes, surrounded by a river on three sides and with a lake taking up most of the other, with only one bridge to one hamlet as the only civilisation in miles, I thought I had finally found the place to test my theory about the hound.
“Frank is a clever dog” I have found myself saying on many occasions, “he runs away from my home in the UK, because he knows how to get back and when he doesn’t, he knows I’ll find him. When first travelling with him, he never ran away, because he knew it was a strange and different place and he knew it may be the end for me and him. Once travelling again, I will be able to let him off no problem, and he will never go far”.
I guess I’ve said a lot of other stupid shit over the years too.
Either way, it was time to put my faith in my hound, and let him run.
At first we were elated, as only half an hour after we had released him, he came bounding back through camp, tongue lolling and looking happier than I’ve seen him in months. I was right, I thought, I gave him some treats and let him go about his business again.
Two days later, the mood had changed somewhat. It was time to leave and after already searching on several occasions around the forest and villages with no success, I was relatively convinced that was it.
So, we concluded, all that could be done was to; Google translate a short paragraph explaining that my hound had run away offering a brief description and the promise of a reward, the plan was to then ask in the village and if there was no luck, leave it on the noticeboard and head to the tourist information in the nearest proper town and ask about any dog pounds in the area.
We left a notice in the campsite. We headed to the village. We asked at every house. We received a lot of no’s. We left a note on the noticeboard. We left, disheartened.
On route to the city, we passed the rough another small village. About 6 miles from where the campsite had been, sceptical, I saw a woman in her front garden and thought it would be worth briefly checking if she had heard or seen anything.
We passed her the note, and once she had deciphered its poorly translated content, she exploded, shouting in Polish and gesturing wildly. It was impossible to tell if she was angry or excited, but either way, it was a lead. Frank had been here. The most emphasis seemed to be on her pointing east, so we thanked her and apologised to her and carried on, pulling up in the centre of the village and fanning out with the remaining copies of our note to look and ask.
After a few more disheartening doors closed in our faces and a man who blatantly refused to take our note, we found a helpful bunch of builders, who confirmed that yes, a dog had been seen matching that description, and that they were sure someone in the village had him in their shed. By this point we were ecstatic. One way or another I was sure we were to get the hound back.
We followed a builder who had kindly gestured that she would show us where the dog was, and, with half of the village in tow, the kids from the recently arrived school bus, the woman we had asked originally and several other onlookers, we approached the house believed to be containing our dog! We knocked, we handed over our note, we waited expectantly with the rest of the village and we were told:
We were devastated, having been sure that this door held the key to Frank’s whereabouts, we were knocked back to square one. He had 24 hours on us. He could be anywhere. We thanked the villagers who looked as gutted as us, the others got back in the van. I started pinning our last note with my phone number to the village board, when I heard a shouting from up the hill. It was the man who had stoically refused to even take our note. He was gesturing me over, I thought in all honestly he was going to shout at me, but I thought I’d better go. I got up to his house and he and disappeared, I waited for five minutes, looking around hopelessly for one last time.
Finally, the man emerged leading his neighbour who in turn was leading our dog! We were all overjoyed. As usual I wanted to pet him and strangle him for the effort he had made us go through, but as always, we were elated to get him back. After thanking the villagers profusely, and staying true to the reward that I had offered, we made haste, in disbelief that we had actually managed to find him, two and a half days later, six miles and two villages away.
Needless to say, he will be kept on a lead for the rest of this trip and unfortunately, probably the rest of his days.