Three days after my sixth birthday I was abducted. He grabbed me from behind as I waited by the gates of the big school for my brother. There was no time to scream as I was flung into the boot of his car. The lid slammed shut and he sped off, throwing me round the small space like a ball in a blacked out pin–ball machine. As the car settled into a cruise my body steadied. I had no idea what was happening, or why? My bowels opened; I remember feeling ashamed that I’d soiled myself – which of course was nothing compared to the indignities that awaited.A mistake had been made – surely? As soon as the man opens the boot he’ll see I’m not his little lad and take me home. My tiny mind turned over as I lay in my own mess. Why was I in the boot? Mammy will be furious with him when she finds out. My big brother will be mad with me for making him miss Scooby Doo. I looked forward to Mammy giving me a nice warm bath when I got home. She wouldn’t scold me for soiling myself; she’ll understand I was frightened, she knows I don’t like the dark. Daddy will tease me for being a silly boy and not kicking the man. I’ll try extra hard to beat my brother in a race tomorrow, just to show him that I’m not a weakling. Then the car slowed and stopped. Thank God I thought – at last. The lid flew up – light blinded me – OH MY GOD – he smacked my face and called me a horrible name. I went dizzy. He kept shouting at me, “You’ve ruined my boot!” I rolled into a protective ball. He hurled me out, my leg making a strange sound as it hit the gravel path; I tried to run but couldn’t. Nobody had ever been nasty to me; everybody loved me. I tried to tell him I was sorry for messing myself – he wouldn’t listen. I was scared. I wanted Mammy.The last thing I remember of that day is his hand coming toward my head as I cowered on the floor, then all went blank. When I woke I thought I’d had a horrible dream, but it was all too real.I was in a shed like building, a rope coiled round my neck, secured to a hook embedded in the concrete floor. I tried to untie it, but the more I tried, the tighter it became. I’d been unconscious for hours; Rosie, the girl also tethered to the hook told me when I eventually stopped crying.She’d been snatched while she sunbathed in her front garden. She told me not to cry or talk to the man as it makes him angry. Just do as he says, it makes it easier, she said. I was thirsty, but she said I would have to wait until morning when he comes with food and milk. When I asked why he’d taken us, she went quiet, told me to try and sleep and remember to be as good as gold in the morning.I was awake as the rising sunlight filtered through a small gap in the shed door. A big metal vice like thing stood against the back wall, a circular saw leaning against it. My leg swelled during the night, I couldn’t stand. The saw frightened me, didn’t like being so close to its dangers and not able to run away. Then I heard a door open somewhere outside. Rosie remained asleep. I looked under the gap and saw a pair of wellington boots coming towards us. I pretended to sleep. The door opened with a loud scratch, which startled Rosie awake. He looked at my leg, said it was a bad sprain, that I would have to rest it for a few days before I’m of any use. He gave us milk, bread and butter with a kind of meat paste. When Rosie finished he took her outside, I saw resignation in her eyes. He bolted the door. I didn’t like being on my own; I didn’t know if I would ever see Rosie again. All I could do was wait and wonder.Hours later he brought her back, tied her up, and left again. She cried softly. I asked where she’d been, but she said she didn’t want to talk about it.Rosie was seven, but seemed so much older than me. She stopped crying and said we had to get away. When my leg gets better we’ll make a plan to get home. She told me all about her big sisters and how they used to love dressing her up. We had a giggle – believe it or not.Days, nights passed. One evening, Rosie gave me a stern talking too, said I had to be brave and do everything the man says. Just shut your mind off to it, think of nice things, like your family and friends. If you struggle or are difficult it will make it harder.But she still wouldn’t tell me what he was going to do. When I asked her why, she said because she didn’t fully understand it herself, she just knew she didn’t like it.Rosie said my leg was a lot better and that he would probably take us both in the morning. When I asked her how she knew, she just put her head down. I asked her the question again, she snapped at me and told me to shut up, stop asking questions. Even though I was only six, I guessed Rosie was hiding something from me.That night I felt lonely. Perhaps Rosie wasn’t the friend I thought she was. I crept towards the circular saw and started to rub the thick rope against one of its jagged blades. After a while I gave up – cried myself to sleep.Rosie was right, he took us both that morning. Afterwards, I understood why she didn’t want to talk about it – I don’t think I ever will.I became angry with my family. How could they let this happen? Why haven’t they come to get me? Maybe they just didn’t love me like I thought they did. I even thought they might have planned it. But then Rosie told me to stop having silly thoughts – they were evil men, end of.The following day things took a turn for the worse. We overheard a conversation between him and another man. The new man said he was looking for a girl, did he have one? This is what he answered, “I have a girl all right but I’m using her at the moment; was going to get rid of her next week, but you can have her if you like, she’ll be more use to you alive than she’ll be to me dead.”Me and Rosie endured the worst of what we came to call ‘the madness’ the next day. At one point the fear became so much that I nearly lost it and let them finish me off. The thought of my family and the belief that they would find us got me through it. I regained my strength, my fight, and did as I was told; I buried my tears deep inside.One day we detected a change: the man seemed distracted, agitated, hurried. He pushed us into the shed and quickly bolted the door – but he didn’t tie us up – a surge of hope. The following morning I watched through the crack as he packed items of clothing into the car. He drove off.We waited to make sure he’d definitely gone, then started shouting at the top of our voices, pleading for help. We cried out until the sun began to fade.Nobody came – we cried ourselves to sleep.We slept soundly that night; the thought of a possible day without ‘the madness’ soothed us. I woke first and walked around the shed, looking for a way out. When Rosie woke I became hysterical. She tried to calm me but couldn’t. Panicked, I ran at the solid wooden door, throwing all my weight at it, only stopping when my head split.Rosie cleaned me up and calmed me down, told me that I wasn’t helping either of us by losing my head. We sat, listening out for hopeful noises. But it was an unexpectedly familiar sound that ripped through the silence, filling us with a new terror. Our stomach’s rumbled like thunder – who would feed us?We could deal with hunger, but the thirst was tortuous. Imagined cold drinks tormented us. Rosie comforted me by saying he would be back soon, or maybe he’s arranged for a friend to stop by and feed us. My hope began to fade with the sun.Time crept hopelessly onwards. We became weaker by the minute, falling into fleeting sleeps, interrupted by cruel, dry mouthed awakenings. We knew we’d die soon, but took comfort in the fact we’d go to heaven together. I looked forward to meeting God. He was the kindest man, he’d explain this madness; as I was thinking about him, the miracle happened.Thunder roared through the night sky, followed by a moment of quiet. The heavens opened, throwing down sheets of rain that hit the roof like bullets. The roof. Neither of us had looked up while in the shed. It was a metal corrugate, which let rain pour in through a small gap in the corner. We crawled to the flowing water, opened our mouths and allowed the God given rain to replenish our weakened bodies.Glorious life flowed back into us. The rain only stopped as the sun rose. A shaft of sunlight pierced the gap, a tantalisingly small opening, a glimpse of escape. If we could get onto the beam, we could force our way through and be free.Rosie, although older than me was smaller. She went first, if she could get out and I couldn’t then at least she could fetch help. We were as much driven by hunger as escape. We climbed onto the vice and surveyed our chances. With my help, Rosie reckoned she could do it. I gave her a leg up, she made it onto the beam, and pushed at the sheet metal until it began to give. As she inched her body through the tight space I saw her skin catch and tear, but she continued. I heard the soft thump of her landing. She was out and OK. My heart leapt – my turn.I couldn’t do it. I tried three times and on every attempt I missed and fell back onto the cold surface. Rosie shouted encouraging words to me from outside. Her tone changed – became urgent. She told me to hide under the vice, quick. Then I knew why. I heard the car.It stopped outside the shed. I squashed into a space so small I could hardly breathe. Car door slammed, shed door scratched open. Two men. They paced and cursed, “The feckers have got out,” his voice fast and vexed. “They’ve escaped, can’t have gone far, they should be half starved by now. I’ll squeeze the life out a the little feckers when I catch em!” I was frightened for Rosie.I listened as they searched, their anger mounting, “They’re not here. We’ll have a drive round.” The car sped off. Exhilaration flooded through me – he’d left the shed door open!I forced myself out, almost wild with hunger. I didn’t shout for Rosie, in case it was a trick and they were waiting to kill us. I walked round the back of the shed – miles and miles of flat yellow fields, the middle of nowhere. Rosie rustled out from the bramble bush she’d hidden in. We were famished and desolate. There were bins at the back of the small homestead. We salvaged a mush of left over dinners and bread, not yet fully rotten. We ate hungrily – like a pair of starving animals.After we filled our bellies we sat and looked out at the flat, open landscape. A narrow grit road cut through the fields like a ruled line. Far away in the distance we saw the dot of another house, beyond that nothing. Despair clawed at my swollen tummy.Rosie gave me hope. She suggested we stay put until night-fall, then walk towards the house in the distance. I was worried that it might be the house of other bad people, but Rosie said we’d know when we get close, and deal with it then. We’d been through so much it was do or die now.Evening arrived – we began our journey.The abuse me and Rosie had endured had honed our instincts. As we approached the bungalow, something told us it was a good place. But still we remained hesitant, we couldn’t be absolutely sure. We peered through the slats of the wooden gate; there wasn’t a shed for one thing, the car parked outside was clean, unlike the mud-splattered vehicle of the bad man. I stood up and stared at the window, looking for any sign; a boy peered out, his gaze met mine.A lady came towards us carrying a flashlight. She crouched down and spoke to us in a kindly tone that we’d almost forgotten, “My poor darlings, where have you come from, you’re skin and bone.” We cried. “Come inside, we need to clean you up and get you something nice to drink, you look like you’ve been through the wars.” Inside was cosy, like home. The boy stared warily, then left the room. I was embarrassed as I could smell us – we stank.A short while later he came running back into the room clutching a newspaper, shouting, “Mammy, look here?” He thrust the paper into her hand; she stared at it, back at us, left the room. I heard the ping of a phone receiver being picked up, she whispered into it. I was scared, but fear had become such a natural state, that I hardly noticed myself quivering.We waited alone in the room. Were these good people, or accessories to the bad? Our thoughts were interrupted by a beam of white flooding through the window, circling the room like a search light, accompanied by the rumble of an engine. Our bodies stiffened.The headlights filled the room, giving it a ghostly, almost heavenly appearance. Engine and lights were switched off. We heard the front door open to welcome our: captors, killers, saviours?Instinctively my head shot up. My nose detected the faint smell of a beautiful familiarity. I jumped to my feet, inhaled hard through my nostrils, raising my head to suck in every hopeful note of the comforting musky scent. I began to whimper with expectation. Snippets of conversation: “We’re almost certain it’s him – bit bedraggled – the markings are the same as the picture in the paper." Then – Her smell. My Mothers smell filled my head, followed by an under note of my brother’s. The two people I loved most in the world entered the room.My brother scooped me up in his arms, I smothered him in dry, raspy licks, my tail wagged deliriously. My Mother cried, “My darling Chad, we’ve all missed you so much, you’re coming home and we won’t be letting you out of our sight again.” I couldn’t stop talking, telling them all about the bad men, how they put us into pits, forcing us to fight other dogs, while they cheered and screamed. But of course, they only heard my joyful barking!We couldn’t find Rosie’s family so we adopted her. Illegal dog-fighting is wrong, yet despite having had the bond of man and dog betrayed in the cruelest way, me and Rosie still look at humans with love and trust – because loving is what us doggies do best. EpilogueThis is the story of my Dog Chad who was dog-napped when I was 15. Himself and a female dog turned up at a neighbours house three weeks later – both almost dead.Their injury’s were consistent with illegal dog fighting.I believe how they coped with their ordeal is exactly how I have 'imagined' it here. They were both sensitive, yet feisty little characters. They lived to a ripe old age, surrounded by love and happiness.