Family sleep rough and lay traps in Highgate Woods to get dog back

A young family have laid traps, spread their scent about the undergrowth and even slept overnight in Highgate Wood in a desperate bid to find their beloved dog.

Nine weeks after inquisitive whippet Zak chased a fox and failed to return, heavily-pregnant mother-of-two Jules Payne can still be seen striding around the woods calling her pet’s name.

Husband Daniel has spent several nights in the wood, dog trap primed and waiting to ensnare their dog which they fear has turned feral over the last few months.

The whole family, including eight-year-old Jacob and four-year-old Poppy, have bottled a family urine spray which they hope will encourage Zak to stay in the area.

Mrs Payne, 31, said: “They miss him terribly – it’s a difficult time.

‘‘The weeks are going on and on and it’s nine weeks now and I just don’t know whether we’ll be able to catch him.

“To be honest, if we don’t get him before the winter sets in then he is going to die because we’re in for a cold one. He’s a whippet and I just don’t know whether he is going to survive.”

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They have set up a feeding station where Mr Payne leaves food, the dog’s blanket and items of the family’s clothing every morning at the crack of dawn before going to work.

The family, from Stroud Green, has even resorted to trying to tempt Zak out from his hiding places by barbecuing sausages in the woods and near the side of Muswell Hill Road, which runs through the middle of the wood.

The Paynes have become a familiar sight among the dog-walking community after they peppered the area with missing posters.

Fellow dog owner Lynda Dyson said: “They have left some clothes up there and there are loads of posters.

“When I was up there last, there were a lot of people coming up to her and giving her support.”

Mrs Payne, who is 30 weeks pregnant, stands sentry at the Grade II-listed drinking fountain in the woods every other day with a friend in the hope that Zak will return.

The mother-of-two, who works part-time, said: “I am pregnant which makes it a little more difficult, but we are just so desperate to get him back.”