By the power of Facebook, you can buy and sell silk purse or a sows ear, share the highs and lows of your life, and announce new arrivals and sad departures to as many ‘friends’ as you care to imagine.
Our local community pages tell us about cancelled trains, punctures on the community bus and bring us important updates about incidents and accidents around the local roads.
But over the past couple of weeks, the main focus for a small village in Essex, has been on Lily the German Shepherd who having been rescued from an unsuitable owners, then made a dash for it from her new forever home, and found herself terribly lost and scared.
But what followed, was I believe, an exceptional example of how a dog loving community rallied round, when it became clear that Lily was going to be very elusive.
At first, people began to do as they were asked, keeping their eyes open while on their own dog walk, and taking spare lead and a few treats just in case they could catch her.
Sightings were posted regularly, and over the next few days, a Facebook page was created for Lily, where people said where they had last seen her and at what time.
But when Lily had been out in some pretty cold overnight temperatures, things gathered pace, and people were now organising themselves into groups to search at pre-arranged times.
A specialist trapping team were consulted and they were happy to help.
Lily meanwhile continued to avoid being caught. She was by this time criss crossing major roads, but being such a young dog, she was not even approachable and every time people got close to her, she just bolted. So frustrating for everyone.
A plan was suggested to place food stations at various points, then, to decrease the distance between them, in an effort to encourage Lily to stick to one particular area, and eventually to set some kind of trap for her.
However, the RSPCA were unwilling to lend a trap, and nobody else had one readily available.
What followed was really quite amazing. As the community began to discuss the need for a trap, people started collectively offering money to buy one, whilst some offered to fund the purchase outright. Donations were taken into one of the village shops. People were incredibly generous not only with their time, but with their hard earned cash too.
As groups met up on a daily basis to search for Lily, friendships were formed, acquaintances were renewed, and there was an incredible sense of purpose shown, and support given to Lily’s owners, who before Lily disappeared, were complete strangers.
People sat in fields with flasks of hot tea, lit BBQ’s in an attempt to tempt her towards the smell. A major Essex road was held to ransom while people drove up and down at 40mph trying to spot her, and lorries were regularly stopped dead if she ever poked her head over a ditch.
The newly purchased trap was manned all the time ‘just in case’.
Sadly, there was no happy ending for Lily. After nearly two weeks evading the kind people who were actually trying to save her, she ventured onto the railway line and…….well, it all happened very quickly.
But there are plans for people that were complete strangers ‘before Lily’ to meet up and have drinks to celebrate Lily’s short but eventful life.
Her legacy has forged new friendships and probably renewed the communities faith in the generosity of others, and their willingness to give their time to help someone in distress, not to mention those traps which are there just waiting in her memory, to help the next ‘lost dog’.