We became worried for her. She had a collar, and a disk, and I tried to catch her so that Anne could phone the number. But just as I'd grabbed hold of her she became nervous and ducked away. Learning from my mistake, second time around I attached her to Bobby's lead and started to shout out the number on the disc to Anne. Bobby - jealous, excited, impatient – decided to take matters into his own hands and dived at the dog, who broke from my grasp, jumped a log, a ditch and a barbed-wire fence and disappeared across the fields opposite, Bobby's leash still attached, leaving me on the floor and Anne with half a telephone number. Bobby deemed this the best fun ever, or at least since the discarded pair of underpants he'd found a few minutes earlier.
The field seemed to belong to a big house away up the hill. And possibly so did the dog, given its direction of travel. So, somewhat stuck for what to do with Bobby without a leash, we gave chase over stream and fence, soon to be surrounded by another three dogs, none of which is the one we were saving and none of whom was much pleased to meet us.
At the house an elderly woman emerges and asks us our business in the manner of an American homesteader greeting some no good cowboys. Anne is charming. Bobby does a little wee. I finger my holster nervously. The woman knows the dog. It lives up the hill. She plainly thinks we were stealing it. But then she's better with dogs than she is with humans. They circle around her like show ponies. She tells us to stay. Bobby treats her to his most beautiful sit.
She jumps in a open-backed van and roars off up the hill, one dog in the back and two giving chase. We stay. Bobby sits. She returns five minutes later, chased back down the hill by the rest of her pack, and sitting in the cab beside her is the “lost” dog, with our lead still attached. She hands the lead to us, gives Anne a don't do it again stare and rubs my nose in the mess I just made on the forecourt. She waves us on our way, back from wherever we came, her dogs circling us all the way to the edge of her property.
Back on our own side of the fence we came out of our trances and finished our walk somewhat aggrieved. There was certainly a gap between our interpretation of events and that of Barbara Woodhouse On Hill. We saw ourselves as a couple of Good Samaritans, she saw us as Cruella De Vil and her bumbling sidekicks. Good folk of Shropshire, be careful out there.