A dog-walking pal told me that she had heard of a lurcher living rough on an industrial site about 5 miles outside Cardiff. I went to investigate and sure enough there was a female lurcher hanging around the units. She had been living rough for about 6 months – wintering out in the cold. The problem was that she was so terrified of people that she could not be caught. For three months I fed her every day and tried to gain her confidence. She would wait for me, recognise the van and run to greet me in anticipation of her food. Eventually she would take food from my hand before dashing away but I could not get close enough to catch her.

Then it became urgent to catch her – she was pregnant to a mastiff type dog who was a lot bigger than she was. We knew the date that she would be due to pup. She grew larger and larger, started limping badly but still no-one could catch her. Finally with just a few days to go before she whelped, I asked Ray Dedicoat, a renowned dog catcher and rescuer, to help me. He and his young daughter, Emma, got up at 4 in the morning to drive to Cardiff to mastermind a capture. Ray set up nets in a place where I knew Emma didn’t go because the owner of the unit used to chase her off. So I was not optimistic. But Ray said that she would follow me anywhere. And she did. As I put down her food next to the van, I whispered into my mobile – NOW. Ray and Emma each pulled one set of nets. The dog panicked, ran at one net and was trapped. Ray lifted her into the van, untangled her and the deed was done. I was able to bring her home. The next morning she was straight off to the vet where she had to have an emergency caesarean. All the pups were dead. So would the dog have been if she had been left.

She was of course named after Emma Dedicoat. And she is now a happy, healthy dog, still terrified of people but fine off-lead with me. She is very young – about 2/3 – and can’t be rehomed because she will trust no-one but me and my daughter.

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