Brin had been home for nearly a year and he had seen his first Christmas and New Year in with love, warmth and lots of new toys.
Looking back at that year from the ending of his time in quarantine to learning so many new things I often would look back at just how much my life had changed also.
Of course I adored him and marvelled at his ability to learn but I also had times when pure exhaustion would take over from his ‘ghosts’ what would blight our walks in the forest, issues with family members along with protecting me, even from loved ones.
There were times I be so stretched to the limit I would sometimes resent the effort, day after day, of trying to build his confidence while I was losing mine.
I always knew it would not be easy, and although the good times were beginning to outweigh the bad, it would often seem like a mountain to climb each and every day.
It was one day in March 2012 that something happened that completely broke my heart. Brin came loose from his harness in the forest, all 300 acres of it, and nothing would make him stop running… or come back.
I had been chatting to lady who had recognised Brin from an article in a recent magazine and while doing so Brin had been exploring a hedge. He had disappeared into it and, although I never normally take my eyes of him I had carried on chatting as I could feel the tension on his lead..what I didn’t know that Brin was not attached anymore and the lead was, indeed, stuck on a branch.
I cannot describe the horror of seeing Brin running full pelt down the path way. I shouted as loud as I could to walkers to try to grab him but realised that he did not have his usual collar on. This was something I had never forgotten to do before and my fear deepened as he leapt over banks and disappeared into the undergrowth.
My other dog, Jake, seemed to know something was wrong and stuck my me as I ran full pelt after Brin. The pain in my stomach intensified as he reappeared, looked at me wagging his tail, and then continued down the path at lightening speed.
We reached a crossroad in the forest and luckily he chose the narrower one leading up to an area where there were lots of small ponds and I knew he would stop to drink. Running after him I found him deep in water and walked in after him, soaking my trousers up to my knees. Bending down to try to loop the harness around his neck he backed up and took off once more up the hill into an area where the tree became very dense.
By this time I was in full panic with the awful realisation that I may not ever catch him.
At the top I watched in dismay as he ran through the trees and deep into tall grasses and disappeared. There was no way I would ever find him in there and it stretched as far as the eye could see.
Sitting down on the damp grass I started to cry. Brin had gone. There was no movement of grass and no areas or paths to follow. He had vanished.
Jake sat next to me as I gathered my thoughts for the only thing I could think of was to go back to the car park and ring for help.
It was then I saw him.
Two eyes, about 30ft in front of me, peered out through the bracken.
Remembering something I saw on a programme many months before I decided not to go towards him, but to stand up and walk away. It was a hard decision but proved to be the right one.
Brin came back and trotted by my side, sniffing the trees as if nothing had happened. Ignoring my pounding heart I pretended to search in among the leaves for something drawing Brins attention and by doing this managed to loop his harness over his neck. He did not resist at all as if saying ‘that was fun but enough now!’.
Brin now has a tracker collar that is linked to my phone as well as two other trusted people.
We call it his ‘Where’s Wally’ collar and it has been a godsend.
As well as reminding me that Afghan dogs are a master of escape and always need a watchful eye it reinstated the deep, deep love I held for this guy despite everything he got up to.