Tue 6 Jul 2004
A WAYWARD dog went for a trip around the Capital - on a number ten bus.
Casper disappeared from his home in Leith while his disabled owner was helping her carer hang up curtains.
Distressed Elaine Nisbett contacted the police after the Alsatian cross went missing, believing her beloved pooch had been stolen.
But her anxiety turned to relief - and shock - when she was told her eight-year-old pet had turned up on a double-decker bus later that day.
It is not clear how Casper came to be on the number ten bus, but it is thought likely thieves took him on and then dumped him.
Mrs Nisbett, of Gordon Street, had left Casper tied up next to her other dog, Whoopie, a two-and-a-half-year-old Patterdale terrier, on Sunday afternoon.
The 36-year-old, who suffers a range of health problems, including multiple sclerosis and epilepsy, said: "I had set up a ladder, which really I shouldn’t do because of my health, and I decided to tie the dogs up outside my front door so that they wouldn’t be injured if I fell.
"I had the front door open, and the living room one, and I was in and out of the house so I could keep a close eye on them and hear if there was a problem.
"But when I went out again, at about 3.50pm, Casper’s lead was there but there was no sign of him. Whoopie, my other dog, was just sat by herself."
Mrs Nisbett said she suspected foul play, as Casper’s empty lead had been clipped on to Whoopie’s.
"Initially, I thought maybe he had just been let off the lead by somebody, but when he’s run away in the past, he’s always come back after a short while because he gets hungry. So I just kept walking out into the street and calling his name.
"Eventually, I phoned the police and told them that Casper had been stolen."
After a frantic but fruitless search of local dog homes, Mrs Nisbett’s hopes of Casper returning safe and well were beginning to fade.
But much to her delight, when Mrs Nisbett phoned Edinburgh Cat and Dog Home in Seafield, she was told they had a dog fitting his description.
"A friend of mine went down there, and Casper was just jumping all over the place," she said.
"I can only imagine that whoever took him decided that he was too much of a handful for them and so abandoned him."
Mrs Nisbett, a widow, said she was overjoyed to be reunited with Casper.
"It was fantastic. I’ve missed him so much - so has Whoopie. I’m never going to let the pair of them out of my sight again."
Mrs Nisbett was all the more concerned about Casper’s absence as the pooch is on a special diet due to health problems, including a heart condition.
A spokesman for Lothian Buses said the dog had been found on the Newhaven- Torphin bus.
"We can confirm that a dog was found on board the ten service at Torphin on Sunday evening. The dog remained on the bus with the driver until the end of his shift, when he was able to take it to Gayfield Police Station."
Edinburgh has been hit by a series of dog thefts in recent months.
The Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals said thieves were targeting larger breeds.
A spokeswoman said: "We just can’t understand why people would do this.
"It’s very disconcerting. They’re not young dogs so they’re no good for breeding. I think in Casper’s case, it may have been down to the fact that he looks like an Alsatian, so they may have taken him as a status-symbol dog.
"Generally, the people who have been carrying out these thefts have
been going for the bigger breeds."
Copyright © 2004, The Scotsman