The following incident happened some years ago, when my children were still young (they're in their late 20's now).
Sunday was the family's day out. Every Sunday morning we'd all bundle into the car - myself, my husband, our three kids and Sparky, our dog - and head out of the city. Since this story is about Sparky, I should tell you a little bit about him. He was an unusually large and hyperactive border collie (the person who gave him to us when he was a puppy insisted he was a thoroughbred, but I have my doubts about that). Sparky was very much a member of the family, and the kids wouldn't go anywhere without him.
Usually we didn't decide where to go until we were on the open road. Sometimes we'd only drive ten or fifteen miles - to the beach if it was a hot day - but other times we'd travel quite long distances, 100 miles or more. We avoided towns and built-up areas to avoid getting stuck in traffic. It was always a bit of a magical mystery tour, and we ended up in all kinds of strange and remote places.
On this particular occasion, we came to a stop in a picturesque village called Gwynedd in Wales. We spent some time exploring the ruins of a castle - or at least the kids did, while myself and my husband explored a nearby graveyard, whose headstones dated back to the 1700's. "Grave-spotting" is a bit ghoulish, I know, but we've both always been fascinated by old graveyards. You can find out all kinds of interesting things about a place by visiting the local cemetery and reading the headstones. Sparky, meanwhile, found a local dog to play with, so everybody was happy.
When it was time to go, we rounded up the kids, and it was then that we noticed that Sparky was missing. We looked everywhere for him, calling out his name and asking local passers-by if they'd seen him, but there was no sign of him. Eventually, as it was beginning to get dark, we decided that we'd have to give up. We were eighty miles from home, and the kids had to be up early for school the following morning. Needless to say, they wanted to stay and keep looking, but there wouldn't have been much chance of finding him anyway once it had become dark. Trying to find a black dog on unlit and unfamiliar country roads would have been an exercise in futility. In the end, we telephoned the local police, who were very sympathetic and helpful and took our home phone number and address and promised to look out for him. We also put a "lost dog" message in the window of what appeared to be the main newsagent in the town. There was nothing more we could do.
The long drive home was a dismal affair, as can be imagined. Holly, our youngest, was in tears for the entire journey. The two boys were silent and grim-faced. They'd wanted to stay on and keep searching for Sparky, and they were resentful of the fact that we'd insisted on leaving. They also felt guilty because they'd neglected to put Sparky's collar and tag on him before we left the house that morning. This was a bone of contention, as I had often reminded them to make sure he was wearing his collar and tag when they took him out, in case he got lost, and they had always insisted that he was too smart to get lost, and that he didn't like wearing a collar. And now he had got lost, and there was no way for anyone who found him to contact his owners. Our only real hope was that the local Welsh police would find him.
The atmosphere of gloom and despondency lasted for the whole of the return journey. We arrived home around 11pm, and, as we drew up outside our house, the first thing we saw was Sparky, standing on our porch wagging his tail with an air of "where have you been? I've been waiting here for ages!" Needless to say, we were pleased and relieved to see him - especially for the kids' sake - but also stunned and completely baffled. It didn't seem possible that he could be back at the house, when the last time we'd seen him was in a Welsh village eighty miles away!
Possibly there is a rational explanation of how Sparky found his way home (and - just as inexplicable - how he managed to get home before we did!), but if there is, I've never been able to think of it. My husband (I call him "Mr Logical") - who dismisses the possibility of any psychic explanation - is even more baffled. For ages he went around saying "there has to be a logical explanation..." but he was never able to come up with one. Nor has anyone else for that matter. To this day the whole thing is a mystery, and I'm inclined to think, at this stage, that it will always remain one.

Mrs G. Hopkins, Staffs, UK.

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