If Bear Grylls were a pet, he would be Rose; a 12-year-old Patterdale terrier from Sussex. This week, Rose was discovered hiding out in local woodland after six years on the run. She was found alive and well, reportedly lured back to safety by a group of well-meaning strangers.
In 2017, Rose went missing just 24 hours after being adopted by her new owners. No one knows what she has been up to on her six-year hiatus, but she will once again be up for adoption.
Rose is not the only pet who has given its owner the slip. From cats to mice and guinea pigs, animals across the country have been performing vanishing acts, only to return weeks, or even years later, as if nothing happened.
Here, six people tell i about their animal escapees.
Murphy’s day out
I was travelling back home to North Wales from London for my mum’s retirement party. We had a dog called Murphy, a wirehaired Jack Russell. My dad had taken Murphy to watch the local football team in the village. He was so focused on football that he didn’t notice Murphy had given him the slip. He had wandered off and somehow boarded a train to Manchester.
Meanwhile, I arrived home. My grandmother was sitting at the kitchen table looking worried and my uncle was pacing. “What’s going on?” I asked. “The dog has disappeared”. My dad had gone back to see if he could figure out where the dog had gone. Then the phone rang. It was the British Transport Police. I immediately thought Murphy had been hit by a car or train. No, he’d boarded a train to Manchester, and was now in Holyhead.
The conductor, who was a dog lover, had seen him wandering up and down the train and (rightly) assumed Murphy belonged to somebody. When no one claimed him and her shift was up, she took him back home to Holyhead with her. It was about an hour from where my parents lived. When he was picked up, the dog greeted my dad as though nothing had happened. He wasn’t even sorry.
Ellie O’Hagan, Llanfairfechan
The 10-year trip
In the spring of 2013, our cat went missing. She was only two. We came home from the school run and she wasn’t there. I spent months trying to find her. My children, then aged 10, seven and five, were devastated. My youngest cried herself to sleep every night for a month. My eldest would search our estate after school. We went anywhere there was a potential sighting, but found nothing. We also had another cat who was incredibly bonded to the one that went missing. We still have that cat now. He is 12.
So, imagine my surprise when, a few weeks ago, I got a call. Nearly 10 years later, my cat has been found! From what I can gather she was taken in as a stray by an older lady, who can now no longer care for her. So she was taken in by a charity, who had the cats scanned and flagged my details as her microchip was still registered to me.
My children are over the moon, my now 15-year-old daughter is beside herself and can’t wait to go and collect the cat – who was 30 miles away. She is almost the same. Still very relaxed. All she wants is love and affection in a warm home. She was only two when we lost her, so she is a lot less playful now, but she still sits in strange positions like she used to. She just wants to be loved. I hope she has got that over the years we haven’t been able to give it.
When I was a child in the late 90s, I got a black cat and called him Sooty. As a kitten, he used to hide behind the washing machine a lot and wouldn’t come out for anything. I think we had him for less than a year before he vanished without a trace. I was heartbroken. Months later, my nan thought she found him living stray down the road and started feeding him.
Imagine our surprise when the next year, actual Sooty returned home. My mum opened the door to find him sitting there completely nonchalant as if he’d never left. He looked in great condition, well-fed, shiny coat. We knew he’d been looked after. I was so excited to see him, and gave him loads of cuddles and fuss. He hung out in the house for a night before disappearing again. I was no more than 10 at the time and absolutely heartbroken.
The next year he returned again, before disappearing for a third time. We think he had found a home he loved, so I was more accepting of him leaving again. Never saw him after that!
Camilla Fellas Arnold, Norfolk
The Return of Blossom
When I was eight, I had a white mouse called Blossom, who escaped from her cage one day when I was cleaning it out. I couldn’t find her anywhere in the house, and I figured that was the end. That day, I came to terms with the true nature of loss.
Except that a month later, she turned up in the garden shed! I couldn’t believe Blossom had survived the wilderness of north London and come back to me. It felt like a miracle, that I’d spotted her in a Wellington boot, when (no offence to Blossom) she looked quite a lot like any other mouse, what with the fur and pink nose.
Actually, now that I’m saying this out loud, I am wondering how I knew it was the same mouse. I’ve honestly never thought deeply about this, but did I take in a stray mouse and all the adults just nodded and went along with it? I have some questions to ask this Christmas.
Kasia Delgado, London
The cat hotel
My indoor cat, Harry, ran out of the house on the morning I was leaving for a two-week holiday in India. I was really worried. My partner was still at home but for the whole two weeks there was no sighting. As I arrived home, he suddenly appeared and walked to the door with me. He has never tried to escape before or since.
I did find evidence of him living in our garage where he had opened a bag of dry cat food and made a bed out of some old foam. Maybe it was a cat hotel for him and his mates?
Judy Hall, Pontefract
The escaped guinea pig
In 2006, we were a two-guinea pig household. The small furry rodents lived in a hutch outside and generally had a good life. Then one day – in an unfortunate incident involving a trampoline and pre-teen girls who definitely should have known better – one of them escaped.
We were bereft, searched for hours, even with a torch as it got dark, but concluded that it was gone for good. Our garden backed onto an open field, with overgrown meadows and wild animals. Muntjac, squirrels, foxes. The guinea pig would definitely be bottom of the pecking order…
Now not only were we heartbroken about the loss, but also guilt-ridden over the single pig left behind. So, after a few days, we bought a second one to keep it company. Only for, you’ve guessed it, the first to return after about a week. How it survived out there we’ll never know.