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Lost cracker was no joke

EVERY NOW and then, along comes a story that reaffirms one’s faith in human nature – and the story of a dog missing just before Christmas is one such tale. Even better, the missing dog’s name was – believe it or not – Cracker.

CrackerCracker, had been ‘missing’ for three days after his owner, pensioner Ray Taylor was rushed to hospital after falling ill while shopping in King's Lynn, Norfolk.


Mr Taylor had driven to King’s Lynn with Cracker from his home in March. He collapsed in the street whilst walking Cracker. A passer-by called an ambulance which was soon on the scene where Mr Taylor was attended.

Mr Taylor had suffered short-term memory loss and in the confusion, the pensioner could not remember where his dog had been left, and he was convinced Cracker was locked in the car, but was unable to recall where he had parked it.

So a major Christmas search operation was launched on Saturday to find the seven-year-old Labrador - and fast. The local radio station, KLFM, put out a special programme in the hope the listeners could help. Simon Rowe, breakfast presenter, said that more than 150 people were involved in searching for the car and many went out in the freezing fog to search.

Nurses, police, RSPCA officers, traffic wardens, scores of members of the public embarked on a frantic search to find the pet, which they feared had been left shut in a car for days.


The appeal was even publicised by Sky TV and at least two national newspapers. The car was eventually found in Queen Mary Road, Gaywood, by a taxi driver at around 8pm on Sunday 23rd - but there was no sign of Cracker.

‘Even nurses at the hospital finishing their shifts were out looking for the dog,’ said RSPCA Chief Inspector Tim Wass, who said the search was then widened to kennels outside the immediate area – and it was in this way that Cracker was located.

Following the media appeal it was discovered that when Mr Taylor, 72, had collapsed in town, Cracker had been by his side.

When the ambulance took Mr Taylor to hospital, the crew had contacted the Ocobo-Mystyle kennels at Shouldham Thorpe. The kennels, run by Pat and Norman Davis is home to the Ocobo-Mystyle Bulldogs, and is also used by local authorities as a holding kennels for stray dogs.
Norman Davis told OUR DOGS: ‘Normally, we’d have to wait with picking up a stray dog until the local authority or the police had asked us to, but given the circumstances, I drove out to Kings Lynn straight away. A member of the public who had helped Mr Taylor had taken the dog to a nearby house and he was tied to the railings outside. Luckily no-one had stolen him and he was fine, so I brought him back here to the kennels.’

Cracker had no nametag or microchip, and when the search was broadened, the connection was made – and Mr Davis was happy to announce to the media that Cracker was safe and well at the kennels.

‘We had newspapers and TV stations phoning us up all over Christmas,’ Chuckled Mr Davis. ‘We didn’t mind, as it was good to show that people cared. We also had lots of offers of financial help to pay for Cracker’s stay, including from Labrador rescue, but we’d already decided not to make any charge for looking after him.

‘There is a serious point here though, that dogs should at least have an identity tag on their collars. If Cracker had a tag, we’d have been able to sort things out a lot quicker and save all the fuss.’

Once Cracker had been traced to the kennels, an RSPCA inspector was immediately dispatched and he picked up Cracker to take him to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King's Lynn for an emotional reunion with Mr Taylor on Christmas Eve.

Mr Taylor, who burst into tears when he saw the dog, said: ‘I'm just overwhelmed to see him. He looks fantastic. I thought I'd lost him, this had really made my Christmas. He is my whole life and it's just him and me. He is my best friend.’

Nurse Sadie Gent, said Mr Taylor, who was being cared for at the medical assessment unit at the hospital over Christmas, had been distraught at the thought of not finding his dog.

She said: ‘He was just very, very upset... The nurses even went out after their shifts to start looking for the car to see if we could find Cracker.’

Mr Taylor, who has no family, lives with Cracker, a rescue dog he has owned from a puppy.
Mr Taylor was released from hospital on Thursday December 27th and driven by his nephew to the kennels to collect Cracker. Owner and dog then returned home to see in the New Year together.

All in all, a real ‘Cracker’ of a story!