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On the 21st of October, me and my family went away with the two big dogs to Holiday 200 miles away from home in Devon. We'd left our Jack Russell, Toby, with a friend. We've been dog sitting her skittish, badly trained JRT that would run away at whatever chance she got for years, and Evelyn, the owner of the JRT, offered to look after Toby for us (for a fee, of course.)

As Evelyn hasn't ever lost her JRT, Connie, we thought "Perfect", assuming Toby would be safe. He was a well trained dog, having passed Bronze, Silver and Gold in obedience. He was a model JRT. he liked exploring, and was stubborn, but knew when enough was enough. His recall was 100% and he was well mannered. We'd never had a problem with him running away or dashing out of doors before. He knew doors were off limits unless he was leashed.

On the 22nd of October, we got a call from Evelyn at 11AM. We were in Devon by now, planning the day. Evelyn called and told us Toby had run out of her door and gone missing. We'd assumed he'd just gone, so told her to go and look for him, find him and call us when he was back. Ten minutes later, we got a call from a friend back home, Kim. Evelyn had called her at 9AM to tell her that Toby had gone missing at 8:30AM, not 11AM.

I ended up being the soul caller for Evelyn, telling her what I was doing to help, what she could do, where I'd posted online, who was looking, where she should be looking, what tools she should take with her, etc. After posting an ad online at a lost dog website, all we could do was hope somebody saw him and picked him up. Of course someone would. It was broad day light, he's a social, friendly dog.

I updated the police, dog warden, shelters, our neighbours, friends - we had everybody looking.

By 10PM that night, there had been no sightings. Evelyn had been sent out to check the traveller camps, go door to door with posters, ask in shops, garages. There were 5 strangers out looking for him for us. At 10:16PM, I got a call from somebody from the lost dog website I'd posted Toby to, saying he'd been found along the railway lines.

While talking to Evelyn throughout the night, her story continued to change. her last claim was that at 8:20AM, she opened her door to the postman. Toby had darted out, and ran left up her driveway. The postman had tried to catch him, and then left. Evelyn had gone out looking but was unable to find him, down the straight road that didn't turn off anywhere. Somehow.

We called the postman who delivers in her area and were told he hadn't seen a dog, nor had he tried to catch one, matching Toby's description.

Therefore, we don't know what happened. I don't understand why Evelyn would lie. We'd be more understanding if she'd been out walking and he'd run off, or if she'd left her back gate open and he'd got out. But now we don't have a clue what happened.

Toby wasn't badly damaged. He had a knock to the side on the head, and looked like he was sleeping. We had him cremated when we got home, and he's now in a nice little box that has his name on it.

I don't think we'll ever understand why Evelyn lied to us. I haven't spoken to her since. Because Toby was technically our property and she'd damaged him, we were told to claim on that. She sent a cheque, but we're uncomfortable cashing it. Toby wasn't money, he was family.

I just hope Evelyn never forgets that she killed our wonderful little man less than 24 hours into looking after him.

 

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I am so very sorry for your loss. I am sorry it ended this way. I am sure your friend will never forget this....it will more than likely haunt them until the day they pass on...It sure would haunt me....but then again I have a conscience.
 

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Despite her repeated "I'm so sorry" phrase, she didn't sound very sorry. I'd have been offering everything if it had been us in her shoes, and Connie that was gone, instead of Toby. Evelyn was just saying a very unsatisfying "sorry".

I just have no idea why Evelyn lied about how he got lost. We've come to a small conclusion: She opened the door, didn't notice he got out, then closed the door, and realised some time later that he'd disappeared, panicked, and called Kim. But we can't prove it, and there doesn't appear to be any witnesses.

There were worse ways that Toby could have died. He was doing what he loved best. Running around freely, sniffing all the smells and doing as he pleased. Then he died quickly and unexpectedly. I wish we'd got him home before the "quick and unexpected" happened, but I'm glad he was doing what he was born to do, instead of scared out of his mind around roads and loud noises.

It's the quality of life, not the amount of years, that counts. xxxxx
 
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