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After Hawick’s Clare Anderson, 48, asked her friend to take Blaze to Dublin in June 2022 to compete in a dog show, she received a phone call that any dog owner would fear.

When told her beloved pet had run away, she could never have believed the way the community in Dublin would come together to reunite her with Blaze.

And after five days missing she was finally found, laying the foundations for a remarkable comeback as she prepares to compete at the NEC Birmingham just under two years later.

“I thought I was going to find him in a ditch,” said Clare.

“I knew I had to fly over and when I got there, I just couldn’t leave, I had to stay. I had to know if he was alive or dead.”

After taking her daughter to her first show dog judging appointment in Perth, Clare’s friend Gail took her Cirneco dell’Etna to Dublin for a competition.

Clare received a call from Gail telling her that on arrival, Blaze had got a fright, slipped his collar and ran.

“When they first called, I thought they were joking,” she said. “I thought he’s won and they’re just pulling my leg.”

On realising the severity of the situation, Clare flew to Dublin as soon as she could to search for Blaze, while her daughter posted all over social media from home.

Camped in a gazebo with only a ground sheet, Ms Anderson and her friend stayed in Dublin searching for Blaze night and day.

She added: “The police let us use their showers and cooked us breakfast each morning. People were bringing us food every day and going out looking for the dog.

“They were just random people, I couldn’t believe it.

“We couldn’t put drones up because we were on airport ground, but a man messaged on Facebook saying he had some thermal imaging equipment and that he’d come and help.

“A young girl came up every single morning to see if we needed anything. Dublin Live got involved, local radio got involved.

“The people in Ireland were amazing. There are so many people where ‘thank you’ is never going to be enough. They went over and above.”

When Clare finally found Blaze after a five-day search, she thought she was seeing things.

“I thought ‘is that my dog?’ I couldn’t believe it. I got a lead on him and 30 seconds later, he erupted. He was round my neck and howling.

“When we returned home, the kids in the street had made a banner saying ‘Welcome Home Blaze’, it was so lovely.”

Blaze had sustained burns and lost some weight, but was otherwise healthy.

It took Blaze nine months to get back in the ring.

But Clare is delighted with his progress.

“He’s becoming better and better with each week. After getting scared and panicked at the World Dog Show in Geneva last year, a lady said we should give up. But since then, he’s won several things,” she added.

“He’s starting to let people touch him again, he’s really coming on. We need to go to a show or ringcraft every week to keep him ticking over and stop him getting nervous.”

Crufts will be another step in Blaze’s road to full recovery.

“I just want him to be calm, have a good day and enjoy himself,” Clare added.

“I’m so lucky, he shouldn’t be here. He brings me so much joy and makes me smile every day. I just can’t believe I have him.”

Crufts, run by The Kennel Club, is a unique celebration of happy, healthy dogs and of the loving relationship that they enjoy with their owners. Crufts is held from 7-10 March 2024 at the NEC Birmingham. Viewers can follow all the action and highlights on Channel 4, and for further information and tickets visit:

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