FIVE-year-old Welsh border collie Dexter proved his loyalty after he and his master were involved in a car accident.

After disappearing in the aftermath of the accident, in which he was probably thrown through a windscreen, the collie was thought to be lost. But he was found ten hours later, waiting patiently at the scene, for his master to return.

Dexter was travelling in a van with his owner, Patrick Tape of Millbrook, and a passenger, when the smash happened in Dartington, Devon. Mr Tape - who runs Tamar Laundry and Cleaning Services at Millbrook with his wife, Margaret - was injured, as was his passenger, part-time worker with the firm 16-year-old Mike Warburton.

Margaret said, in the trauma of the crash and the arrival on the scene of police and fire fighters, Dexter, who doesn't know the area, ran off. It was thought he would never be found, but when she drove past the scene of the accident ten hours later, to visit Patrick, to her amazement the dog was patiently lying by the roadside - waiting for someone to return. That was at 9am on Saturday, the accident occurring around 11pm Friday.

Margaret, 41, said that she could not believe what she was seeing at first, and had to look again. Up to that point she had been considering starting a search in the area, and asking Dartington residents if they had seen Dexter, who is only slightly bruised as a result of his ordeal.

The family have had Dexter since he was around six weeks old, and Margaret explained: 'He is a very faithful dog, and is always by my husband's side.'

He is now happily back home, in West Street, Millbrook - the Tamar Laundry and Cleaning Services having moved to new premises there. His master, and Mike, are also out of hospital, although Patrick is still recovering from his injuries.

Margaret said that at one time, when her husband was in hospital, and Dexter had disappeared 'it was very traumatic'. But all were relieved when the collie's loyalty led to him being reunited with them all.