A HEARTBROKEN dog owner who’s Norfolk Terrier went missing was dramatically reunited with her pet 17 months after he disappeared, thanks to an international search for him via the Internet.
Julia Faulkes was heartbroken when Teddy, whom she described as "a little bit of a child substitute", disappeared – she later believed stolen - during a walk near her Wiltshire home in August 2002.
She and her boyfriend went to extraordinary lengths to find him, putting up posters, placing leaflets in local newspapers and alerting every police force in the country. As a last resort, Ms Faulkes turned to the Internet and set up a website – www.findteddy.com – that featured pictures and video footage of the 18-month-old dog and offered a £1,000 reward for clues to his disappearance.
Within weeks, the site was receiving dozens of ‘hits’ a day, from dog wardens, Norfolk Terrier owners and even dog lovers in America who seemed convinced they’d seen Julia’s dog.
Miss Faulkes's perseverance eventually paid off in January when, during a skiing holiday in France, she received a call from her mother to say that Teddy had been located in a kennel for strays in Bristol, about 20 miles away.
The dog warden who had found the animal realised that it was Teddy after speaking to other Norfolk terrier owners who alerted her to the website.
Speaking from her home in the village of Grittleton, Wilts, she recalled the moment that she and Teddy were reunited.
"He recognised me instantly and was shaking all over," she said. "Much to our great relief, he had been well looked after and looked extremely fit and well. He had a deep cut on his paw, which was badly infected and itchy. He had fleas and worms but there was nothing ghastly wrong."
She added: "Without a shadow of a doubt, I thought Teddy was gone for good. We worried that somebody had got him and that he was living in unpleasant circumstances, so when I got the call, I couldn't believe it was true."
Despite the long separation, she said Teddy had settled in well back at home. "He has always been sparky with a lot to say for himself, but he seems a little bit more grown up," she said.
With thefts of pedigree dogs growing, Miss Faulkes said she was convinced that Teddy had been stolen for breeding purposes. She has since fitted him with a microchip and urged other dog owners to do the same.
"We were very unlucky to lose Teddy the way we did, but very lucky to get him back," she said. "It is a cliché, but our story shows you should never give up hope because miracles do happen."