I’d seen her before, but never alone.
Now, lead trailing, tail not wagging, she is heading for home, FAST.
She is barking the place down, and becoming increasingly frantic, throwing herself at the unanswered door.
I’ve met Tessa before, with a cute little blond moppet of a boy, Jacob, usually with one sock up and one sock down, looking like a bundle of mischief with an impish grin and a wave if I am in the garden.
I go next door to see if I can help. I ring the doorbell – still no reply. The dog tugs at my trouser leg then runs off. I follow. I can’t keep up with my arthritic knees, but she keeps coming back for me, barking, whining and tugging on my trouser leg again. I am going as fast as I can.
I ring 999 and explain what’s happening, but I feel they are not taking me seriously, an out of breath elderly woman following an anxious dog, but I know that something must be wrong. I have never seen Tessa in this state before.
We head for the woods, surely Jacob can’t have gone in there – I certainly know his mother has told him they are out of bounds, I’ve heard her say so many times. But I follow as best as I can. I ring 999 again to tell them where we are heading – again I doubt they are really that bothered, and I shout at them which probably doesn’t help.
Tessa is getting more agitated but I have to lean against a tree for a minute to get my breath back. Again the tugged trouser leg and the frantic whining. We set off again.
Deeper into the wood the silence is eerie. No birdsong, only my wheezing. Then I hear something. Someone is sobbing, and must have been sobbing for a while, breath catching, almost hiccupping. Then behind a tree, there is dear Jacob. He holds up his arms to me. I sit and hug him to me, not minding one bit that he is muddy and getting mud and blood and leaves all over me. Blood? Just a gashed knee – nothing new, it will heal. But his ankle looks bad, twisted into an unnatural angle. He won’t be able to walk on that, and I don’t think I can carry him all the way home. I call 999 again, and this time they do take me seriously – they are on their way with an ambulance. In the meantime Tessa is licking Jacob, licking me, and her tail is wagging. Jacob is calming down. I tell him how clever Tessa was to come and get someone and we have a group hug the three of us.