One Empty Stocking


I pulled out the Christmas stockings from the attic last night to give them a good dust off. I took them down into the lounge to place them beside the fire in readiness for Christmas Eve. Even though my husband is 46 now, he still enjoys getting a stocking and our children 14, 12 and 9 also enjoy the experience, so I hang one out for each of us.

That was when it hit me as hard as it has done of late.

Several years ago I sewed the names of the stocking owners onto the stockings and there they were all present and correct: Dad, Mum, Michelle, Stuart, James and Bailey.

But Bailey is no longer present and correct.

We don’t know where Bailey is.

Just that he was stolen last April. Taken while we were all out watching James playing in a rugby match.

Why, oh why did we not take our beautiful dog with us?

Yes, it was a hot day but he could have sat on the touchline. He was / is a part of our family after all.

What would anyone want with an eight-year-old mongrel? That is what worries me most.

I think he’s dead.

Sometimes I feel him nearby. I think to myself now why would I feel him in spirit if he’s alive?

Other days I take strange routes home perchance I spot him on someone else’s lead. I look in laybys, I walk rivers and canals. I ask at dumps. I even went to church, for the first time in years, to ask for confession in the hope that the powers that be up there smiled more kindly on us.

When we open the presents and crack the crackers this Christmas, spare our family a thought.

A pet is not just for Christmas. It is for life.

Bailey is our life sentence right now.

And our lives are not full. Our lives are not enjoyable. Our hearts are perhaps forever broken. We’re not in Aleppo, we’re not starving and we’re not sick.

But our dog – our child – has been kidnapped.

You do not need to feel for us. But that doesn’t stop us feeling for ourselves. For Bailey.

Our Christmas Day will be one of laughter and family. But when the day is done we will climb up to our beds and wish once more to be the one who shouts, “have you given Bailey his biscuit yet?” one more time.

Happy Christmas to you. We all pray for a Christmas miracle to reunite us with our beloved dog.

To you, the dog thief: please, just let us know. Everything. As soon as possible. So, we may move on. Perhaps I may bury him?

Please, just let us know.

So, I may address the spirit I feel walking beside me and tell Bailey that he’s a really good boy and we love him dearly. That he should go, one last time, to lie down and rest.

Country Squire Magazine began our anti Dog Theft Campaign on December 6th with Time to Stop Dog Theft  and the response was massive including a lot of interest from British politicians and lawmakers. Please click on that article where you will find a link to a petition well worth signing but PLEASE write to your MP today or email them asking them to classify Dog Theft as a specific and serious crime. There are people across the land suffering like Janet Smith (pseudonym) and they should not be. We must stop this hideous and lowlife crime by raising the punishment levels and building awareness now. If you too have had a dog stolen, please let us know by using the contact page and we may be interested in covering your story. 

3 thoughts on “One Empty Stocking

  1. I am so very sorry about the theft of Bailey, the unhung stocking reminded me of our first Christmas without Ginger, our yellow lab who died shortly before her 13th Christmas. I applaud the effort to have laws in place to criminalize the theft of pets in Britain. I am not sure of the laws here in the states regarding this crime, I hope they are commensurate with the devastating loss felt by their families. Fortunately, I don’t believe it is terribly common.
    What is the reason the pets are taken? Is it only dogs or cats too?

  2. Dominic Raab needs to look at this issue again. Sentences need to cause shockwaves. Dog theft is human to human crime.

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