To make sure you never miss out on your favourite NEW stories, we're happy to send you some reminders
Click 'OK' then 'Allow' to enable notifications
| Last updated
That's what happened to grandmother, Philomena Boenke, whose beloved 16 year old Chihuahua Yorkshire Terrier cross, Brandy, went missing.
Brandy disappeared in October 2020 while on a walk with her son, Tony, 59.
Now, the 81-year-old sits by the window every day in the hopes the pooch will return.
Philomena is deaf, so she stays at the window to ensure she doesn't miss the dog's arrival, even waking up in the night to hold a vigil for the pooch, and opening her front door to watch down the street.
The poor grandmother claims she 'cannot rest' until she knows where her doggo has vanished to.
So, her daughter Mary, 58, has renewed her appeal for Brandy's safe return, urging whoever has Brandy to 'find it in their hearts to do the right thing' - as the family fear he was stolen.
Mary, from Clapham, South London, said: "Because mum can't hear, she is often up at the window or out the front door, especially at night.
"She says 'Mary, I can't hear. If he's making his way back home to me, he could be outside, and I can't hear him'.
"She's looking out the window, she gets up in the middle of the night and thinks she's heard him.
"She changes his water bowl every day and she goes out looking for him. She says 'he's still there in my heart, I can't let it rest until I've got closure'.
"The big thing I noticed is quite late at night, the front door is open and she's looking out. She says 'Mary, I wonder if he'll make his way home'.
"We have a lot of foxes in London and sometimes you see a fox [fur] colour, then she's up and out in the street. she'll say 'oh Mary, there was a fox and I thought it was Brandy'.
"It tears my heart apart listening to mum sometimes. She's a strong woman and she holds it together very well, but you'll catch her looking at his pictures.
"She's very appreciative of people. She can't believe how many people are interested.
"She says 'it's amazing they'd be interested in my boy Brandy. Imagine that, Mary?' She cannot believe how kind people are.
"It lifts my spirits that after all this time there are still people out there willing to help."
After bringing up Mary and her siblings, Philomena kindly agreed to help a friend by adopting her two dogs, Brandy, and his brother Ruffles, who died two years ago.
But last year, after 16 years of happiness, Brandy disappeared into Hackney Marshes while on a walk and never returned, leaving retired factory worker Philomena mourning the loss of her companion.
Mary said: "From the get-go, mum said 'they give me a reason to get up in the morning'.
"Brandy and mum had a routine. They'd get up early at the same time, she'd have her breakfast and Brandy would have something to eat, then they'd go for walks.
"He had a very attached routine that was integrated into mum's routine. Everything was done together. He was there all the time.
"He had a very affectionate nature but was cautious as well. He's not the kind of dog to run up to a complete stranger.
"[In October] my older brother decided he'd take him over Hackney Marshes. He'd done this before and let him off the lead to have some freedom.
"He's not one of those dogs that goes running off for miles and you think 'where are they' and you're shouting across the field.
"My brother said he looked and Brandy was gone. It was early evening in October. It was moving towards those days where it was getting darker.
"He called me and said 'is he there with you? Has he come home?' I was over for the weekend.
"I said 'no' and asked him what route he'd come. I made my way down there and we were out all night, for hours and hours, across the marshes looking for him.
"He was an older dog and was quite vulnerable in that sense. It was totally out of character.
"My brother phoned the dog wardens, kennels, but because of covid, it's harder to get through to these agencies.
"Over that weekend, I was out hour after hour, across Hackney Marshes, the Olympic Park, Victoria Park. You'd come back, you'd get an idea in your head, then it was back out again.
"Initially, you think 'why would someone take an older dog', but dog thefts have gone up, people are impulsive. They see the dog on it's own and get it quickly. They don't necessarily care about the age of the dog."
As the days and weeks ticked by without any sign of Brandy, Philomena continued searching for him while the community came together to stick up posters and spread the word online.
On November 9, they received a call from a stranger who believed he had found Brandy.
But as they arrived at the scene, they were told another woman had claimed he was her pet and refused to stick around for their arrival, leaving the family devastated.
Now, Mary is renewing her plea for Brandy's safe return, as her mum still continues to check for Brandy every day.
Mary said: "The feeling of hopelessness and powerlessness in this situation is unbelievable.
"You hear stories of older dogs going missing and being sold for next to nothing with a story saying 'oh, this is an old dog and I've got to give him up'.
"Or some people might find a dog and think it's fate. You make these assumptions but the reasons are quite broad.
"If you're feeling a bit suspicious, please go and get your dog scanned at the vet.
"It's always good to check in case it belongs to someone else.
"Someone out there will recognise him, or may have him. They might think again 'actually, he does belong to Philomena'.
"She loves him a million and she's missing him, if they can find it in their hearts to do the right thing."
Chosen for YouChosen for You
Most Read StoriesMost Read