It is with much sadness that I lost my beautiful Search Dog Meg in early October 2020, she was nearly 13 ½ years old.

Meg was a pretty tri-colour collie girl with foxy pricked ears and spotty nose and legs, expressive amber eyes and a beautiful banner tail. I rehomed Meg at 11 months old from a local farm and as she had not left the farm, she was shy and timid and would not even come for a walk. She soon started to come out of her shell with TLC and the help of my previous search dog Mac, and her character started to emerge as her confidence grew.

She started her training as a search dog in November 2008 and to start with she would only bark for a dustpan brush wiggled on the floor though soon moved onto proper toys with balls and squeaky toys being a favourite. Though she did also manage to chew through a knitted plat on a bodies hat!She would also creep up on the bodies hiding out for us and often came back to tell me that she had found with them when they were still unaware they had been found until barked at furiously second time in – she was a sneaky girl.

Meg graded in April 2011 in the Howgills and went on to work for 8 years before developing arthritis and retiring in March 2019. She attended 84 callouts with me – many just us, and a good few working as a team with Search Dog partner Bracken. Many of the callouts I remember were in the dark, wet, raining, windy, poor visibility searching for lost walkers, runners or despondent and vulnerable people. Training and working a dog in conditions like these build a bond and understanding that cannot be explained.

She attended avalanche training in Scotland, flew in helicopters, went in boats and also starred in Cumbria Life Magazine and the Mountain Rescue Film 2015 where she sits gracefully at the end. She was always very agile and would scamper up and down small crags or run along walls making my heart race.

Meg was also the cover girl for our Friends Supporters leaflets for many years and loved to have her tummy ticked by children at our Open Days and Collections outside the Fiat Garage in Keswick.

In late 2015 she was tasked, along with Search Dog Ginny to find Pudsey Bear who had got lost on Catbells for a short film for Children in Need. She was quite taken with Pudsey’s feet which resembled very large fluffy toys in her eyes and tried several times to get hold and run off with them! Meg also starred in a Japanese programme about dogs and owners demonstrating how we train search dogs to find people using toys and play.

She was such a character, she was loving, fun, playful and cheeky and also stubborn, awkward and analysing-a real thinker and pushed my patience to its limit at times, she made me laugh and I adored her. She was very chatty and vocal and liked to comment on many things with a Woo Woo which could quickly escalate to an excited bark-especially when playing or at small wheels and birds.

She loved water and would be down at the water’s edge of any lake or river waiting for a toy to be thrown in or would swim alongside me.She taught me so much as a search team partner and as a friend and companion and life is so much emptier without her. I am heartbroken to lose her and miss her enormously, she was always there, and life is very quiet.

Time will heal and I have many good memories of all the good places we went and the things we did together, and she will always be with me.

Elly Whiteford

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