Rosie the Dog Got Lost—So She Turned Herself in at a Police Station

After their dog ran off, Steve and Julie Harper barely had time to worry before the phone rang. It was the police department.

Pet Reunions Rosie OneLeicestershire Police / Facebook
Rosie the border collie waltzed into a police station after she was separated from her owner, Steve.

Bang! Somewhere, hidden from view in leafy Southfields Park, Loughborough, United Kingdom, someone set off fireworks. After hearing the noise, 10-year-old border collie Rosie, who was running around off-leash, ran back toward her owner, Steve Harper.

It was late in the afternoon on Friday, Nov. 4, 2022, and there would be even more fireworks on Saturday for Guy Fawkes Night. “Kids let off bangers for about a week before and a week after,” says Steve’s wife, Julie, who was at home while Steve, Rosie and their English pointer, Laser, were at the park near their home.

Bang! Another round of fireworks. Rosie always cowers during thunderstorms (and, strangely, upon hearing the ominous theme music to the BBC TV game show Mastermind, Julie says). For safety reasons, the family had trained her to return to them when she was frightened in public.

When the Harpers adopted Rosie from a rescue shelter in 2014, they were told that they were Rosie’s third owners but learned little else about her past. Julie had seen a picture of the black-and-white dog posted on social media by a shelter, looking skinny and staring into the camera.

After seeing the picture, Julie told herself that Laser, just one year old at the time, was lonely. “I persuaded my husband that Laser needed a sister,” she says. Julie and Steve raised five boys and she admits that, as an empty nester, she loves having “something to baby.”

The couple and Laser piled into the car and made a seven-hour round trip to pick up Rosie from the shelter in seaside Woolacombe.

Rosie was easily startled by loud sounds and was nervous around men when she first arrived, but soon fell in love with the Harpers’ sons and bonded with Steve. Julie calls Rosie “absolutely adorable,” with a fondness for chasing squirrels, and her balls and toys.

Pet Reunions Rosie TwoCourtesy of Julie Harper
Rosie the border collie.

But Rosie’s fear of loud noises never went away. After the second bang on that Friday afternoon, she took off and quickly disappeared from sight. Steve knew looking for her and dealing with Laser at the same time would be impossible, so he called Julie to tell her what had happened. He planned to make the 15-minute walk home to drop off the younger dog and come right back to search for Rosie.

At home, Julie hung up and had less than five minutes to begin worrying when her phone rang again. The voice on the other end asked if she was the owner of a black-and-white dog. “She’s just turned herself in,” they said.

The caller was only half kidding. The Loughborough Police Station is on the other side of a hedge at the edge of the park. Rosie had likely dashed under the hedge and walked through the automatic sliding doors of the police station.

Closed-circuit television showed Rosie walking into the waiting room, nosing around for a few seconds, and politely seating herself at the end of a row of chairs. A few minutes later, staff emerged, gave her some water and a few cuddles, and called Julie, whose phone number was on Rosie’s collar.

Julie thinks she knows why Rosie knew just where to settle: The waiting room chairs at the police station closely resemble those at the local vet. “I presume she saw the chairs and thought, ‘Oh, this is what I do. I sit and wait.’”

When Steve returned with Laser, Julie told him the news and he headed back out to fetch Rosie from the station. The dog was overjoyed to see him. And when the two finally arrived home, safe and sound, Julie says Rosie got “lots of cuddles and a few biscuits.”

Next, read about these quiet fireworks that don’t scare dogs.

Reader's Digest Canada
Originally Published in Reader's Digest Canada