Charlotte Rotton, 21, Cirencester, thought she’d lost her pooch in this horrific crash…
With my eyes closed tight, I was struggling really hard to contain my excitement.
‘Are you ready?’ my boyfriend Owen, 23, asked.
‘Yes!’ I squealed.
‘OK, open!’ Owen laughed.
My heart skipped with happiness when I saw the tiny Jack Russell puppy nestled in Owen’s arms.
It was last November. I’d had my 21st birthday the month before and I’d been badgering Owen for ages about getting a puppy.
And it seems all those hints hadn’t gone unnoticed.
‘Thank you so much,’ I cried, taking the little pup from him.
I decided to name my pooch Peanut, and was instantly besotted.
As Owen lives on a farm, we decided that Peanut should stay with him. I lived with my parents, and it wasn’t fair to keep Peanut cooped up inside all day.
At the farm, he’d have acres of land on which to run about.
I’d visited Peanut every day, though, and loved to watch him race around with excitement.
He loved causing mischief, chasing the sheep and cattle.
‘You’re a cheeky scamp,’ I giggled, tickling his belly.
Peanut and I were joined at the hip and I couldn’t imagine life without him.
On the days when Owen was busy, I’d take Peanut to my job as an office administrator and everyone absolutely adored him.
In January this year, Owen had to go to a farming show.
‘You’re going to come to work with me today,’ I told Peanut, scooping him up.
I had a guard in the boot of my Fiat Punto, so I could travel safely with him.
It was about 6.45am and the roads were clear.
A bit icy out, I drove slowly. Then, out of nowhere, my car hit some ice by a bridge.
Skidding, I tried to swerve. But my car slid out of control, and suddenly flew off the bridge.
It crashed in a shallow stream below, on its roof.
Everything seemed to happen so quickly.
One minute I was driving, the next I was hanging upside down by my seat belt.
My heart pounding with fear, I quickly unfastened my belt and landed in a heap.
I was dazed and in shock. Other than that, though –remarkably – I was unharmed.
But the first thing that came to mind was poor Peanut!
I scrambled into the back of the car and called his name. But I couldn’t find him anywhere.
The doors were crushed shut so I couldn’t get out. Luckily a passerby phoned 999.
When a fire crew arrived, they helped me out of the car.
I was ankle deep in ice-cold water, but all I could think about was Peanut. Desperately searching, I hoped to see him on the bank.
But he’d vanished.
My heart was in my throat and when an ambulance arrived, I didn’t want to leave.
‘I have to find my dog!’ I sobbed.
‘Let’s get you checked out first,’ a paramedic said.
I was taken to Great Western Hospital for scans and X-rays, and everything was clear.
‘You’re very lucky,’ I was told.
Still, I was sick with worry about Peanut.
I’d phoned my mum, Wendy, and she took me back to my car, reassured me that we’d find Peanut…
But when I saw my car in the stream, I broke down.
It was a complete wreck. A wheel had come off, the bonnet was crushed, all the windows were smashed…
‘What if he’s under the car?’ I cried, terrified.
It was a miracle I’d walked away, less likely that Peanut had, too.
When my car was lifted from the stream and Peanut wasn’t under it, it gave me hope he’d somehow managed to escape.
‘But where is he?’ I wept.
We searched the surrounding area for ages. Nothing.
Mum put a plea on Facebook, asking for help to find Peanut and we made posters and flyers.
That afternoon, dozens of people came to help look.
We even set up a barbecue and cooked sausages to lure Peanut out from where he was hiding.
‘All dogs love sausages!’ I said, trying to be hopeful.
By now, Owen was home, and had joined us.
‘But what if we never find him?’ I cried.
‘We will,’ Owen comforted me.
Hours passed and Peanut was still missing.
At 11pm it was so dark, the search had to be called off.
Mum took me home to rest. I couldn’t sleep a wink, though.
It was bitterly cold out, and I worried poor Peanut might freeze to death.
By 7am next morning, I was back at the site, searching again.
I’m not giving up, I vowed, determined to find him.
I walked up and down the road, squeaking Peanut’s favourite toy over and over.
Then all of a sudden, I heard a rustle in a nearby bush. And, from nowhere, a tiny bundle of fur burst out.
He scampered towards me, and I held out my arms.
Tears streamed down my face as I scooped him up and buried my face in his fur.
‘I was so worried,’ I told him.
Peanut was excited to see me, too, licking my face and barking.
I wrapped my coat around him and sat at the side of the road holding him.
At that moment, Mum drove past and pulled over.
‘I can’t believe it!’ she gasped, making a fuss of Peanut.
We figured he must’ve escaped through the car window after the crash and hidden in the bushes, scared.
Mum then took us to a local vet, who checked Peanut over.
Incredibly, like me, Peanut wasn’t injured, either, just a little bit dehydrated and shaken.
Back home, I gave Peanut some food and plenty of water. Then we cuddled up on the sofa under a duvet, and watched films all day.
Before long, Peanut was racing around the place again, up to his usual mischief.
‘The crash certainly hasn’t fazed him,’ I told Owen, relieved.
Losing Peanut was definitely the most terrifying experience of my life, though.
The fact we both escaped the accident unscathed is a miracle. We’re both doggone lucky!