Opinion: Angus MacPhail – When four-legged friends disappear

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The connection between man and dog has been recognised as a unique bond throughout human history.
At the weekend the strength of feeling for our furry four-legged friends was amplified by the probability of never seeing my pooch again.
Last Sunday at 1pm our wee mischievous Jack Russell terrier, Beastie (full name Milo Beastie), ran off chasing the scent of – we think – a deer from near the summit of Achintore Hill, south of Fort William.
Like some of my two-legged friends, he is academically very intelligent but lacking severely in common sense. With no road sense, not much homing instinct and a terrier’s single-minded determination to chase his quarry indefinitely, there was a real possibility that after around 10 hours of searching, we would never see him again.
He could have been trapped in a fence, stuck down a rabbit hole, getting under the wheels of a lorry on the A82, or simply lost in the wilderness with no idea how to find home – none of which would end well.
At around 11.30pm, I had just arrived back at the trig point on Achintore Hill ready to camp out for the night hoping he would sniff his way back to his departure point. What joy when I got a phone call saying he had calmly walked into the bar of the Caledonian Hotel on Achintore Road.
I danced and sang on my own in the dark in a fit of relieved celebration for about five minutes. After the celeb­ratory dance came huge gratitude to all who shared Beastie’s plight on Facebook and especially to the staff at the Caley Hotel who, if less caring, would have simply ejected their imposter back out into the night and we might not have had a happy ending.
On returning down the hill I dug out the following verses, which I composed for Beastie some years ago.

Milo Beastie’s Poem
I didn’t want you Beastie, when you first came to my life
But just agreed through many pleas, from a most persuasive wife.
But looking back I’m oh so
glad you came with us to stay;
And now you’ll be a friend to me, until you’re old and grey.

You are a law unto yourself, a character and case –
No stopping you the stuff you do and things you want to chase;
But as I write this rhyme for you, you’re snoozing on my bed
So peaceful when you’re warm then, with sleepy little head.

Why is it that we bond so well? I really do not know,
But when I touch your Beastie fur, I feel a happy glow.
And when I’m sad and lonely, as life can sometimes be,
What soothing cheer when you come near, and snuggle up to me!

The complex ways of man and the hurt they sometimes cause
Hold not a shred in Beastie’s head or furry little paws.
Such love for you, our wild wee Beast, I don’t quite comprehend
But through the years of joy and tears, you’ll always be my friend.