It was more in a spirit of desperation that I decided to contact an animal psychic after my friends’ terrier Lark disappeared. Lark vanished one evening from their house. She was chipped, and her collar had their number on it, but as the days went by no one called.
Lark’s photo was put on Facebook and on posters near her home. Had she been stolen, or hit by a car? We searched for her body but found nothing. Was she stuck down a rabbit hole? Five days after her disappearance, my friends went on a prearranged holiday and left me in charge of the mystery.
I put dog food outside Lark’s home. What if she returned and, like Peter Pan, couldn’t get in? A high-spirited, long-legged Parson Jack Russell, Lark reminded me of my own dog Perry, who’d lived till he was 17.
What other options were left? Another friend knew a woman, Becky, who said she could tune in to a missing dog’s mind, so I recklessly paid for three sessions. This isn’t such an unusual thing to do. Every year several thousands of Brits consult dog psychics – in search of missing pets or simply to find out what they think. Javier Milei, the right-wing libertarian and frontrunner to be Argentina’s next president, claims that his deceased mastiff Conan gives him political advice.
Becky certainly gave me practical advice. She told me that the owners’ photo of Lark wasn’t attractive enough and that I had to make new posters. She told me to add the word REWARD, and circulate them further afield. I added my own mobile number. A helpful neighbour insisted on a poster at the garage on our dangerous main road and said that he’d seen two teenage Traveller boys in our village who had threatened to steal dogs. Becky tuned into Lark’s mind and said that she thought that Lark might well be with the Travellers, but warned me to be careful.
Taking a poster to our nearest Travellers’ site at 5 p.m., I only found two Irishwomen, several children and an old spaniel. Becky then became fixated on bigger Travellers’ sites nearer Brighton, but warned me not to go there alone. She mentioned wheels, birds of prey, and people living off the land. It seemed a litany of clichés about Travellers and I was irritated.
At last, nearly a month after Lark’s disappearance, came a breakthrough. A man called Gary got in touch to say that around the time of Lark’s disappearance he’d seen some vehicles including a police car stopped beside a dead terrier in the road. It is a legal requirement to report the death of a dog or farm animal. If it was Lark, why had no one done this? I went at once to the local police station with my determined friend Ruth, and spoke to a PC Mike Pratley, who was helpful and sincere. In his files he found Lark’s missing dog report and gave us the case number. He would make enquiries.
To test Becky’s psychic powers, I decided not to tell her about our breakthrough witness. She continued to talk ominously about people living off the land and referred to Lark throughout as a ‘he’, which she was not.
But when I eventually broke the news to her that Lark had most likely been hit by a car, Becky kindly leapt into action again. She seemed almost relieved to have real, non-metaphysical detective work to do. She phoned every vet in the area to see if they had any record. PC Pratley also phoned vets, to no avail. He was unable to get any information from the traffic police. Googling the District Commander, we found she was a dog lover, so wrote a letter to her too.
Two days later, the DC came through. For nearly five weeks Lark’s body had been at the Pet Dispensary for Sick Animals, where the police had taken her after the accident. A new staff member had started so it had not been reported. I looked back at Becky’s last communication: ‘Lark says she’s lost near a hill opposite the station. There is a park connection.’ The PDSA is close to a station and park, it’s true, but Lark had only been taken there when she was dead.
Would I use Becky again? Perhaps. Without her determination we might not have found out about Lark’s sad end. Lark is now buried in her owners’ garden but I can’t bring myself to visit her grave.