THREE years ago Bart and Linda Redpath’s much-loved Staffordshire terrier Spike was stolen from the backyard of their Granter Street home in Warrnambool.
Two weeks ago the unbelievable happened — the couple was reunited with the black and white bundle of joy they thought they’d never see again.
Spike was found about 240 kilometres away in Hoppers Crossing when a Wyndham City Council ranger checked his microchip details.
The separation from Spike was made even harder for Mr Redpath because the then-six-year-old pooch accompanied him everywhere, often acting as a pseudo hearing dog for his master, who was born profoundly deaf.
“Having Spike there I can tell someone’s coming, just by the way he reacts — he’s sort of alert and I’ll notice someone’s coming,” the builder said.
Mr Redpath, Mrs Redpath, a teacher at Merrivale Primary School, and their then-three-year-old daughter Ella were devastated when the dog was stolen from behind high fences and a latched gate.
“It was a hot night, so I thought he was just being a bit lazy and that he didn’t want to come in from the kennel,” Mr Redpath said of the evening the dog was taken.
“In the morning I realised he wasn’t there.
“So I put on a big search for him.’’
Mr Redpath turned to social networking to reach a wide audience, but it was to no avail.
“I put him on Facebook and the missing dog’s register and the missing Staffies’ register with all his microchip details,” he said.
“But it didn’t work.’’
Mrs Redpath said her husband didn’t just lose a best mate.
“He was kind of special because he could do things like tell us when there was someone at the front door and tell him when the phone was ringing — he was almost like a hearing dog,” she said.
“He was in our wedding photos, so he was pretty special.
“He was Bart’s best mate.’’
Three years later and the couple, whose family has grown to include Angus, 3, now live in Allansford.
Mr Redpath this week described the shock and joy at learning his beloved pooch was alive and well.
“It was awesome,” Mr Redpath told The Standard.
“I’d been wanting a dog for ages and I was always a bit sad because of Spike’s disappearance.
“I was thinking the next dog I wanted it to be the kids’ dog, so I thought I’d wait a little bit.
“Then we heard he was OK.
“When Spike came back Angus was hugging him.’’
Mr Redpath said Spike still knew many of the tricks he’d learnt as a puppy, including sit, roll over, over again and waiting for the command “OK’’ before eating food.
He said the Staffie had re-adapted to his old life and bonded well with the children.
Mrs Redpath said the one lesson she wanted to impart to other dog owners was the importance of microchipping.
“Without the microchip we would never have got him back,” she said this week.
Readers using smartphones can watch the video on this link: https://www.youtube.com/v/9jBU32IEArM?%20version=3&hl=en_US