Late one cold evening in November, a UK Facebook group erupted in joy: Darwin, a beloved dog missing for six weeks, was finally home with his owner Sue. This was the culmination of a community’s relentless effort, a story of hope, technology, and the unbreakable bond between a dog and their pet parent.
Darwin’s disappearance on September 29, 2023, sparked an immediate outpouring of support. “From the very first sightings… the community drive to bring Darwin home was strong,” shared a group post on the “Brought Darwin Home” page.
Despite initial sightings close to a nearby main road, the trail went cold for several weeks. The community set up feeding stations, deployed drones, and even installed wildlife cameras, courtesy of local resident Salli Scott. “Sue and I were traipsing into the woods feeding the local foxes their daily ‘Deliveroo’, but Mr. D just never made an appearance,” the post detailed.
The search was exhaustive and often disheartening. Multiple sightings led to dead ends and the weather was getting cold. The hope that Darwin was still local was kept alive by his owner, Sue, who believed he had found a perfect hideout. How right she was.
A breakthrough came on October 30th, with a sighting of a big black dog in the woods, half a mile from his last known location. Sue, along with friends, spotted Darwin when following up this sighting. “When [Darwin] saw Sue, he paused for a moment, but survival mode had taken over,” recounted the group. Unfortunately, he bolted for safety – but at least the search team now knew he was safe and where he was hiding.
The next phase was setting up a trap, assisted by Solstice Missing Dogs’ Karen and Jodie. Despite numerous challenges – kids on mopeds, fireworks in the woods, and Darwin’s clever avoidance tactics – the community persevered. A larger trap was considered, but instead, the existing one was modified. Frustratingly, Darwin only ventured into the trap when it had been deactivated for the team to have a rest.
The final attempt was made on November 10. Food was smeared around the trap, and a marrow bone was tied to entice Darwin further in. At approximately 9:10 PM, Darwin entered the trap and triggered the door. “After Sue sat next to the trap talking to him for about 45 minutes, it appeared that he was recognizing her,” the post narrated. Darwin’s joyful reunion with Sue and his return home was a moment of pure elation for everyone involved.
“After dragging Sue through the woods back to where we had parked her car, he calmly walked right to the back of it, and once the boot was opened, jumped in and settled straight down on his bed. It was just like they were returning to the car after a walk, and he was ready to go home,” adds a post on the group page.
The success of this mission was a testament to the community’s dedication. Special thanks were given to a local butchers for providing food for the feeding stations and baiting the trap, a local estate agents for mass printing posters, and the ‘Core Team’ who tirelessly searched and manned the trapping site.
The post ended with heartfelt gratitude from team member Emma. “Thank you again to everyone in this group who has been on this journey with us… it’s been an emotional rollercoaster of a ride but we are thrilled that it’s reached such a happy ending! Together we BROUGHT DARWIN HOME!!”
Darwin’s story is not just about a lost dog being found. It’s a narrative about community spirit, the power of social media, and the lengths people will go to for the love of a pet. As Darwin runs around Sue’s house and snuggles on the sofa, it’s clear that everything is right in their world again.