A missing Carlow dog has been found near the Laois pub where she was born, after escaping from her home in Milford more than 25 km away.
The extraordinary tale of escape artist Fluffy, who was born at Headen’s Pub in Spink, was the talk of the village on Saturday 5 August when she was finally reunited with her family, after a tireless community effort lasting three weeks.
Fluffy was born in the village near Abbeyleix eight years ago and has been a beloved pet for the Doyle family in Ballygowan, Milford, since she was a pup.
Fluffy never returned to Spink throughout those eight years. Yet somehow, after running away during a thunderstorm on 17 July, she turned up in the village two days later.
The mystery of how mongrel Fluffy ended up in her native place, never mind how she managed to travel such a distance so quickly, may never be solved.
Pub owners John and Julia Headen, their daughters Róisín Fleming and Síle Casey and other family members were incredulous but delighted at her return, particularly Róisín whose adored dogs Pippin and Dodger were Fluffy’s parents.
Amazed at Fluffy’s sudden appearance in the village after over eight years, Róisín told The Nationalist: “It was just incredible. We still can’t believe it. We don’t know how she found her way here and we probably never will.”
However, the dog’s arrival in Spink was just the beginning of another lengthy tale, as Fluffy evaded all attempts at capture over three long weeks. Family, friends and neighbours joined what became an entire community search effort. Bowls of food were left out and prayers were recited but, each time she came within reach of capture, Fluffy bolted off into the distance.
Owners Gary and Nicola Doyle, whose children Willow (13) and Talon (9) were devastated after Fluffy’s escape, travelled over to Spink regularly with other family members as they tried to track down the runaway dog.
There were sightings of the escapee nearly every day but, each time, it was a case of ‘so near and yet so far’ as she continued to avoid the search parties.
Eventually, the tale had a happy ending on Saturday when Fluffy was spotted in a derelict quarry just a few hundred metres from Headen’s Pub. Gary approached her and called out before standing stock still, to avoid startling the pet into another rapid departure. To his delight, Fluffy began to walk towards him wagging her tail, the end of her big adventure at last.
The Doyles say they were overwhelmed by the kindness of the village community during the long search.
Nicola said: “The community in Spink has been incredible. Everyone knew about Fluffy and they were leaving out food and water and doing everything they could to help find her.
“They were all so invested in the story and hoping that we would get her back. The difficult part was that there were so many sightings of her but she wouldn’t let them near her.
“There are not many communities that would get behind us like they did in Spink. The fact that they knew there were two kids anxiously waiting at home spurred them on and we want to thank them so much. They were simply wonderful.
“We want to thank the whole community because they have touched our hearts and spirits throughout the past three weeks. We have met some lovely people whom we genuinely cannot thank enough.”
There were celebrations in Headen’s Pub on Saturday night in honour of the prodigal canine’s safe return.
And there was still one more twist in the tale. When the results of the Ballinakill/Knock Parish Lotto were announced on Sunday, there were cheers and laughter when ‘Fluffy c/o Headen’s’ was a €20 winner. What a dog!
This story was originally published in the Carlow Nationalist by Carmel Hayes, republished with permission
Keep up to date with all the latest news on our website Beat102103.com.