Chelmondiston: Brave Buster’s incredible doggy paddle

A spooked pooch is lucky to be alive after becoming so frightened he fled his owner and swam across the Orwell.

Tiny two-year-old Buster broke free from his lead outside Orwell Stores, Chelmondiston, and was last seen sprinting past the village primary school.

Owner Ann Glazebrook spent three frantic hours searching for the West Highland Terrier Cairn cross before he was found on the other side of the river near Nacton.

Despite the tide being out it is thought the one-foot tall hound faced a 180-metre swim to get across to Nacton Shore.

Gail Pryke, a runner with Ipswich Jaffa, was walking her dog Archie near Nacton picnic site when she spotted what she thought was a dead bird in mud near the shoreline.

“He was dripping wet and he looked a bit bedraggled,” she said. “He looked very forlorn and he was shivering and I did not know what had happened.

“It had not occurred to me at the time that he’d come across the river. When I was told he comes from Chelmondiston I could not believe it!

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“If I had not found him he’s a small dog that would have got very cold, very quickly and if he had been swept back I don’t know what would have happened to him.”

Yet despite his remarkable swim Buster still had to walk for another hour before he reached Gail’s Ravenswood home, where he was given a wash in her sink.

Mrs Glazebrook, a former carer at Spring Lodge, Woolverstone, said she had tied the dog to a dustbin outside Orwell Stores around 9am.

“He was outside the shop and then all of a sudden I heard this noise and I went outside and I saw him running up the road.

“He went up Main Road and turned into Woodlands and I asked some mothers outside the school and they said he’d gone racing past.”

The 61-year-old, who lives in Woodlands, got a call from her daughter Nicola – whose contact number was on the dog’s collar – around noon to say Buster had been found.

“I was really pleased when I heard he was okay,” she added. “I had tears in my eye when we were reunited.”

Her husband John, a warden at Alton Water, said: “The tide was fairly low so there was a fair expanse of mud.

“I don’t know where he went in, no-one at the pub down there at Pin Mill saw him. He’s extremely lucky – if it had of been high tide he would have been swept away.

“He’s only got six-inch back legs so I don’t know how he did it! We were all totally shocked that he went into the water in the first place.”