Fern’s Reunion – A Recall of Events By Her Owner (#FernsLaw)
Standing in the kitchen, just about to start dinner on an ordinary Wednesday evening. I looked over at my phone and could see a voicemail message had appeared. That’s strange I thought, I never heard it ring.
I dialled the number to retrieve the message and nestled the phone to my ear, right hand rooting in the cupboard for a suitable Paella pan…
The voice on the other end began… “Hi, there, I’m calling from Twyford Veterinary clinic. Could you give us a call back please.”
I instantly stopped looking in the cupboard… She had my attention.
My mind raced… Veterinary clinic? What could it be? One of my horses? Gus?… I was thinking of the most unlikely explanations, almost too scared to even dream it may be Fern.
When my mind had cleared enough, my shaking hands dialled the number. I could feel my stomach bubbling and my heart was racing. My hands had become cold and clammy as I waited for someone to answer.
“Hello, its Mrs Ferrier here, I’ve just received a call asking me to contact the clinic”
“Ah yes, let me just pass you to the nurse, hold the line please.”
Somehow I had made my way out to the porch. I had wandered without noticing my feet move. There was no other sound that I could hear, just deathly silence on the phone as I waited for the next voice to appear.
” Oh hello, Mrs Ferrier. I think we have your dog”…
A simple, short statement. No fireworks or fanfare…
I tried to speak… “My dog?”
“Yes, she was found wandering in Reading and picked up by a client of ours. He brought her here and we scanned her.” her voice slightly bemused by my question.
I stood, rocking on my feet. The world began to spin and I had to stretch out an arm to steady myself against the wall. Those words were so unassuming. A fact. A statement of truth… But what they meant to me was nothing short of miraculous.
It felt like a long time, but in reality, was probably brief before my brain could compute and allow me to form a sentence.
“My dog was stolen 6 years ago. I have been looking for her every day since April the 28th 2013”.
Now the nurse was silent…
“Yes, she was stolen from my home address in Chessington and I’ve been hoping for this call”
Thereafter, I asked the nurse to describe the dog to me. Still, I didn’t want to be disappointed.. She described her to the letter. Black, female Spaniel. Long docked tail… Older in years and has had pups.
She asked me when I could come and get her. I explained that I now lived on the Isle of Wight. She said that was no problem, they would move her to the out of hours kennels nearby and I could get tomorrow.
Absolutely not! I was coming now!
Once the team at Twyford had heard the news they decided to keep her at the surgery and wait for me.
I hung up.
My head swimming with happiness I’m not sure I’ve ever felt before or since. The nightmare was over, she was safe and I could go and get her! Tom was at work still and didn’t know the news… But there was one person I needed to tell first.
The phone rang…
“They’ve found her.. They’ve found her, she’s been found!”
“No?” (and a few choice expletives!)
“Yes, in Reading, I’m going to get her!”
Tears and shaking voices! I couldn’t believe I finally had my chance to say those words to Paula. She’d been by my side throughout the ordeal. She drove me to stolen dog hotspots, helped me poster, helped me to search all the possibles, met several dogs on my behalf to check. Scanned deceased animals found in secluded spots ( turned out to be a fox). I couldn’t have asked for anyone better to help me.
“What did Tom say?” she asked
“I haven’t told him yet, I called you first!”
She laughed! “Get off the phone and call your husband!”
So I did!
He was in as much disbelief and rushed home.
As soon as he arrived we packed the children up with lunchboxes, stuffed with pizzas I’d thrown in the oven instead, my planned Paella shoved to one side and forgotten.
We didn’t have a ticket but drove to the ferry and explained we needed to get on the next one. It wasn’t busy on a Wednesday evening so we were on the next sailing, no issue.
The drive to Reading was strange. Ethan was the only one who felt the enormity of the situation. He had already cried happy tears when I’d told him at home Fern was found!
It was a quiet journey. Anticipation and excited nervousness had all our minds reeling. What if she didn’t recognise us? What if she had been abused? What if she didn’t take to our family? Would my children be safe around her? So many unknowns.
We arrived at the surgery at around 9pm.
We pulled into the car park and Tom switched off the engine … This was it. The moment had arrived. He squeezed my leg “You OK, Bub?”.
Shaking, I replied.
“Yes, I’m ready”.
He gathered the children and we were met at the door by the kindly nurse I’d spoken to on the phone. She smiled, she knew what this meant. The whole team had stayed on to witness the reunion. I showed her my microchip papers and identification as requested, leaving them on the desk, battered and beaten from being pulled out of a drawer so many times these past 6 years, I focused on breathing and staying calm.
Stephanie explained that Fern was quite nervous, had clearly had pups recently and had been a little stressed. As we were 5 people, she suggested just one of us approach her first. I agreed. We didn’t want to overwhelm her.
I handed another nurse my phone and asked her to take a video. I wanted to be able to relive this moment forever!
I walked a few steps forward, away from my family.
“Are you ready?” she asked
“I think so!”
The door to another room opened and out came a panting and stressed little black dog. I knew instantly it was her by her sideways wiggle. I let her approach me and she went to walk past… But something caught her attention and she doubled back! She knew it was me!
I can’t really put into words how I felt at that moment. My little storm cloud just blew away. She was safe. She was well. She was coming home. At that minute she caught sight of Ethan and Tom encouraged him to approach. She knew her boy. After all these years… And how he’d grown… She knew!
After a very tearful time chatting to the wonderful Twyford team and telling the story we were finally on our way home.
The car was still quiet on the journey, but this time we all had smiles, etched onto our faces as we glanced in the rearview mirror at that little dog… Our little dog in the boot.
The last Ferry home was cancelled so we waited until 3am to board the next one. The children were tired, but I felt wired! Absolutely buzzing. Fern was quite stressed but now I could reassure her and give her a long-awaited hug!
We arrived home gone 4am. The exhilaration and adrenalin had now wiped me out and I could barely function. I tucked my children into their beds. They were so tired. I finally climbed into my bed and Fern climbed up too. Dirty, smelly, scabby, and oh so itchy! … I didn’t care. I held her gently and stared at her… She’s here. She’s finally here.
I still do that now. A whole year on. Every day she catches me off guard and I ask her “Ferny, where have you been?” she looks up at me and wags her tail as if to say “it doesn’t matter mum, I’m home now”.
Home now. Making memories, giving hope to others and attempting to rewrite the law books to help reunite more missing and stolen pets.
If only she knew how special and prominent her story is. How her life can serve as a little glimmer of hope to those who are still waiting to come home to their families.
Happy reunited day to us! And thank you. Ferns Army, for all you did, and all you continue to do. In a time where I felt hopeless and useless, I was given strength by your unwavering dedication.
I’m so glad we got to share this happy ending with you all and I’m forever indebted to everyone who shared and searched.
Here is Fern’s reunited video!