by Eileen Spavin Harrison (Sholeen Kennel, UK)

Eileen is well known and respected in Lowchen world circles as a breed specialist judge, as well as founder/co-owner/breeder/handler of Sholeen Lowchen, along with her daughter, Shona Grieve.


Almost a decade ago, about two weeks before we were due to leave for our winter months in France, we had what can only be described as a nightmare experience. I had returned home, weary after an early start and a long day, from the Löwchen Club Championship Show. After unpacking and feeding Esther, who had also been at the Show, we all settled down in the lounge to watch some evening TV. An hour or so later I noticed Esther had wandered off; I assumed she had gone to put herself in her own bed, something she often does.

As we had such an early start to the day, it wasn’t long before I decided that bed was the only sensible option for me, too.

OK folks!  That’s it! With that, everyone was ushered out to do their bedtime bits and pieces. Shortly afterwards, my husband Jack came back into the house and said, “I can’t find Esther anywhere.” There was no sign of her. We then started to search the house from top to bottom, looking in the dog boxes, behind the couch, the airing cupboard, under the conservatory chairs: everywhere that an average sized Löwchen could maybe curl up and sleep. Next, we started on the places we knew deep down she couldn’t possibly be. When all venues had been eliminated, I decided the back gate must have been left ajar (probably after we unloaded the van) determining that when Esther left the lounge, she must have gone outside, seen the open gate and wandered off into the night. We couldn’t find her anywhere in the house, despite several searches. The gate, even though we found it closed, being the only possible access to outside from the back of the house, seemed to be the only plausible answer to her disappearance.

By now, utter panic had set in!  For the next few hours, we scoured the area, neighbouring drives and gardens, the field down by the canal and the pond, all the while calling her name and whistling. As time passed, our spirits sank lower and lower; for me, I was close to becoming hysterical, actually. It isn’t much use to start ringing the authorities at three o’clock in the morning, so we left the gate open, wrapped ourselves up warmly in swathes of blankets while we stayed up all night (well, what was left of it!) holding a vigil in the conservatory, hoping Esther would finally find her way back in.

Next morning, there was still no sign of her. So, Jack went out in the van, driving around the streets in the vain hope that he might spot her. Meanwhile, I sorted out all the relevant telephone numbers and was just about to start phoning when I heard a little noise from the front of the house. Esther? I rushed to the front door, flung it open fully expecting to see her on the porch, wet through and shivering with the cold. Nothing! About five minutes later, I heard the same noise, again. I went through the front hall, back to the door. As I passed the lounge, I spotted a little black nose poking out from under my chair. Esther!

I will explain. I have a reclining chair and in the evening always use the chair in the reclining position. To arise from the chair, the leg rest needs to be pushed back on its mechanism; it then fits flush to the floor, as does the rest of the chair. “Madame” must have been in the space under the leg rest when it was pushed back and had lain there all night, snug and warm. She had not made a single sound until the morning when I heard her.  Can you imagine my relief when I opened the chair and there she was, wagging her tail like crazy! Can you believe it? Needless to say, Esther had the tightest squeeze and hug that she is ever likely to get!

I walked around the rest of the morning saying, “thank you, thank you, thank you!” Some prayers do get answered.

© Eileen Spavin Harrison, 2011