A series of co-ordinated gatherings, including on Bamburgh beach, is being held nationwide next Sunday (March 10) to help in the search for two missing border terriers, Ruby and Beetle.
A Borders gamekeeper and his wife, Edward and Georgia Bell, offered a £1,000 reward at the beginning of January in a bid to get back two beloved pet dogs they fear were snatched while out on a festive hunt. Since then, a Crowdfunding site has increased that to £5,000, but the pooches have still not been found, despite a widespread social media campaign.
The gatherings are being held across the country, including Bamburgh beach, Edinburgh's Portolbello beach and Gravesend in Kent, all from 11am to noon; and Pontefract Racecourse, from 10.30am to noon, in the hope of raising awareness and intensifying the search nationally.
On a Facebook event page inviting people to join the Northumberland meeting, Beccy Smart writes: 'We would love you to join us at Bamburgh beach to help highlight our campaign to get Ruby and Beetle back. We don't want to take up too much of your time, we would just like to get lots of photos of our gathering and then please feel free to go and enjoy a week at your own leisure with your dogs. Even if you don't have dogs, please join us anyway. Everyone is welcome, the more the merrier.'
The Bells last saw the two bitches on the Lothian Estate at Jedburgh early on the afternoon of Friday, December 28.
Ruby, aged five, and Beetle, two, often used to disappear only to turn up a short time later at the couple’s home, Woodside Gamekeeper’s House.
However, as the hours passed, it became clear they were not returning this time round, and they feared their pooches had been targeted by thieves. Both dogs are spayed and microchipped. Georgia says she and Edward – along with children Tom, 15; Felicity, 14; and Frances, 12 – are desperately missing their pets as their home still doesn’t feel like home without them around.
At the time the dogs went missing, Georgia, 45, told our sister paper, the Southern Reporter: “We were out on a shoot day. The dogs do all our shoot days with me. They were with me. They were round my feet, but that’s not to say that when something catches their eye they don’t run after it, but they always, always come back.
“They have done it for years, and on this particular day I did say ‘oh, the terriers have vanished’, which isn’t particularly unusual, and I stayed at the wood for two hours, whistling and shouting and they never, ever returned.
“We have exhausted everything – all of the holes people say to check – but I know that someone has lifted them. The terriers have done it before and have actually headed for home. They know the estate better than my husband who has worked on it for 21 years.
“It’s not unusual for them to disappear on a shoot day and then you get home and they are sitting on the doorstep. They can get home quicker than you.
“I know that on that day they were heading for home and they have not been able to get home because someone has picked them up. Their being so friendly could have been their downfall.
“There were reports of a really unusual gentleman on the day of the disappearance at Harestanes visitor centre – we just live along from there – and this lady sent me a message to say he made them feel very uncomfortable by making a big fuss of their dogs. The timings would link in with that. I feel that a part of my house has been ripped out.
“The house doesn’t feel like a home anymore. We don’t sit in the living room because they were always there, and I don’t like going back into the house at the minute. I just want people to be vigilant. Someone somewhere knows something. We just want them home.”
If you can help track down the missing terriers, call Georgia or Edward on 07885 712165 or 07989 513946.