A FAMILY on holiday in Sutherland have been left distraught after their beloved Siberian husky went missing in a remote area of the county.
Stephen Wood (56), his wife Denise and sons Scott and Sean, who live in Aberdeenshire, are now appealing for help in finding their pet, Kobel.
The three-year-old husky was being taken for a walk on Corriemulzie Estate land, near Oykel Bridge, on Monday afternoon when he spotted deer and lunged after them, breaking the lead he was on and running off into the distance.
Mr Wood, a director with Openreach, said: “As you can imagine, the family are distraught about it.”
He is particularly worried that, with lambing underway, Kobel as a lone dog could be seen as a potential predator and is in danger of being shot.
Appealing to local farmers and landowners, he said: “Please do not shoot him if you see him. Although he looks like a wolf, he is a very, very friendly dog and is as gentle as could be.”
Mr Wood has holidayed in a cottage on Corriemulzie Estate every year for the past half-century, initially with his parents and now with his own family.
He said: “It is the wilderness and sheer remoteness of it that we love. I used to come to fish but now just come to enjoy the scenery.”
Eighteen-year-old Scott was enjoying a walk with Kobel when he stopped at a remote spot by the Letters Burn. The teenager extended Kobel’s lead to allow him to go into the water but still be under control.
Mr Wood said: “Scott was just sitting having a sandwich at the riverside when Kobel saw deer moving on the hillside opposite. He suddenly lurched with force, snapped a plastic clip on the lead and went straight across the burn and away up the hill towards Alladale.
“My son ran after him as fast as his legs could carry him but he was gone and we haven’t seen him since.
“He could have gone down into Alladale or west into Inverlael Forest.”
The family immediately reported the loss to police and began searching for their missing pet.
Mr Wood said: “I have got an Argocat and we have been out in it, driving all over the estate but he is the type of dog that can cover 100 miles a day.”
A particular concern is that Kobel is trailing his lead and could come to harm as a result.
The family were due to return home on Thursday but, if the weather improves, Mr Wood is considering extending his stay in order to continue the search.
He has spoken to neighbouring landowners and estate managers who have agreed to look out for the dog.
But he said: “I don’t think he is going to turn up here because he crossed the water and we have lost the scent.”
He is now asking local people to keep an eye out for Kobel. Anyone with any information is asked to either contact the Woods (after today) on 01467 626169 or Police Scotland on 111, quoting the reference number 3906.