It’s probably happened to all of us once. You notice the back gate flapping suspiciously in the wind and your heart rate doubles. You check under the beds, behind the settee, even in between the car and the garage wall, and just as you are about to panic you the spot him bounding bashfully back with ‘that’ look on his face.

He couldn’t have been gone for more than five minutes. A lucky escape you may think, and you promise yourself you will fix the latch on the gate, but your curious friend doesn’t have a clue about the highway code, or the perils of big, sheers drops, he was just having a nosey about the neighbourhood.

More often than not these incidents, although undesirable, have a happy ending. This is often due to helpful neighbours mucking in with the search, familiar locations for dogs to navigate with and ease of communication. Take all of these factors away and it could all turn out very differently.

With the popularity of the Pet Passport Scheme, more and more people are able to holiday abroad with their dog for company, so by definition, it is a possibility that our dogs could do the dreaded disappearing act as a far away as Italy or Spain.

The most popular places for people to holiday with their pets are often rural and are often within the UK. If you holiday in Wales for example, and you have the misfortune of losing your dog, you will not necessarily be at as much of a loss as you would be if you were in rural Italy or France. For a start you would have a common language and you would be familiar the law. The initial panic that would set in would be lessened slightly by your ability to communicate your problem to someone, in a country with a language that you don’t speak; your predicament will only be intensified by your inability to communicate your problem.

If you are travelling on holiday, the best ways to ensure that if you lose your pet you can get them back are as follows:
have your pet fitted with a microchip. This is compulsory if travelling under the Pet Travel Scheme abroad;
whilst travelling abroad your pet should wear a collar containing details of:
a United Kingdom address; and
a United Kingdom telephone number; and
a contact point within the country in which you are travelling.

If your pet is lost whilst travelling you should notify the local police and make enquiries with local vets

Rule 1. Make sure you are taking your dog on a holiday that is suited to him. Ensure it is a holiday that allows you to keep an eye on your dog, and one that allows you to keep him from boredom, the main reason that dogs go walkabouts by themselves.

Prevention is the key here, once your dog is out of your sight, you cannot control his fate, nor can you control his actions. Ensure that when out in public, the dog is always on leash (this is demanded by law in many popular holiday resorts) and when he is alone it is imperative that he is secure. This does not just mean locking the hotel door behind you as you leave to play beach volleyball, a careless cleaner or porter could make it all too easy for your dog to escape. If you do leave your dog on the premises, give instructions to all who may have contact with the dog to ensure he is secure before they leave.

Rule 2. Take all practical steps to ensure that it is not made easy or tempting for the dog to wander off.

If you provide the dog with the option of going off alone for a stroll, he may well just do that. If it is not a viable option, the thought won’t enter his head. Not many dogs ‘escape’ in the sense that they have tried to get out of a property or garden, more often it is an opportunity offered to them on a plate, such as an open door or slack lead loosely tied to a lamp post (opposite a butcher’s perhaps).

No matter how careful a dog owner is, there is always an element of misfortune involved in a missing dog holiday saga.

If fate and destiny conspire together and you still find yourself on holiday minus your dog, there are a few things that you should have done before you left home just in case. Tim hall of pet exports, (www.petexports.co.uk) offered these pieces of advice.

1.Take a recent photo with you. Descriptive words in a foreign language are often hard to come by in times of panic, and not everybody knows what a Dandy Dinmont Terrier looks like.
2.Change the ID tag on the collar before you leave. Even if someone does find your dog wandering the Costa Brava, they won’t know where to start if the only information available is ‘If lost please return to 34 Bloom Street, South Shields or phone 821 445’. Put the address and phone number of the hotel at which you are staying, and remember to put any instructions in the right language. You should always leave the UK address on there as well, in case you have to leave the country without your dog.
3.Be aware that different countries have different attitudes towards dogs roaming freely. The Spanish have a particular dislike for stray dogs, your dog will look like just another stray, so for a busy Spaniard to make the journey across Marbella with your beloved Deerhound is expecting an awful lot.
4.Know who to contact. The local police station is a good start. Perhaps straight after that you should contact the council and any kennels near by. Do not contact the British Embassy or the consulate; to be frank they have bigger fish to fry than your lost dog, such as terrorism and international relations.
5.Tim’s strongest recommendation is this. Don’t take him off his lead or let him out of sight.

Take a recent photo with you. Descriptive words in a foreign language are often hard to come by in times of panic, and not everybody knows what a Dandy Dinmont Terrier looks like.

You may know how to ask for a cappuccino in Milan and a baguette in Paris but do you know how to ask for a Doberman in Dortmund or a Rottweiler in Rotterdam. We have taken the languages spoken in the most popular holiday resorts in Europe and provided useful translations of helpful ‘lost dog in Europe’ phrases.

En Francais.

Excuse me, have you seen this dog roaming freely?
M’excusez-vous, avez-vous vu ce chien errer librement?

Do you know the way to the nearest kennels?
Vous savez le chemin vers les établissements les plus proches?

I wish to report my dog missing.
Je voulais rapporter mes disparus de chien.

He is a big/small/medium dog with long/short hair of dark/light colour. His/her name is Dotty.
Il/elle est un grand/petit/moyen chien avec de cheveux longs/courts de couleur légère/foncée. Il/elle s’appelle Dotty.

Thank you so much. Where can I pick him up? I owe you big style pal.
Merci tellement. Où peux-je le prendre? Je vous dois le grand modèle mon amis.

Italiano.

Excuse me, have you seen this dog roaming freely?
Lo scusate, avete visto questo cane vagare liberamente?

Do you know the way to the nearest kennels?
Conoscete il senso al canile più vicino?

I wish to report my dog missing.
Desidero segnalare i miei missing del cane.

He is a big/small/medium dog with long/short hair of dark/light colour. His/her name is Dotty.
È un cane piccolo/medio/grande con capelli corti/lunghi di colore chiaro/scuro. Suo il suo nome è dotty.

Thank you so much. Where can I pick him up? I owe you big style pal.
Grazie così tanto. Dove posso prenderlo? Vi devo lo stile grande mia compagno.

en español

Excuse me, have you seen this dog roaming freely?
¿Me excusa, usted ha visto este perro el vagar libremente?

Do you know the way to the nearest kennels?
¿Usted sabe la manera a las perreras más cercanas?

I wish to report my dog missing.
Deseo divulgar a mis desaparecidos del perro.

He is a big/small/medium dog with long/short hair of dark/light colour. His/her name is Dotty.
Él es un perro grande/pequeño/medio grande con el pelo corto/largo del color ligero/oscuro. El suyo su nombre es dotty.

Thank you so much. Where can I pick him up? I owe you big style pal.
Muchas Gracias. ¿Dónde puedo tomarlo? Le debo estilo grande mi amigo.