A family are desperately searching for their springer spaniel.

"Delightful" seven-and-a-half year old Dexter went missing while on a walk in Stanmer Park, near Brighton.

The Argus: Annette Beard with DexterAnnette Beard with Dexter (Image: Annette Beard)

Owner Annette Beard, from Withdean, has thanked people who have gone "above and beyond" to help find their beloved family pet, who they have had since he was a pup.

She said: "Dexter disappeared into the trees, which isn't out of character. As a springer spaniel he does that all the time.

"But this time, he didn't come back."

The Argus: Dexter is brown and whiteDexter is brown and white (Image: Annette Beard)

Her husband, Brian, was with her and Dexter when he ran away on Saturday afternoon. He added: "We didn't really feel anything unusual, however after three or four minutes we went to look for him.

"As time went on, it became more and more disconcerting."

They stayed at the park until 7pm that evening to find Dexter, having contacted their friends and family to help them in the search.

Annette, who is an associate professor at UCL, said: "We had loads of friends turn up, searching everywhere. 

"My friends Sue and Andy walked from Ditchling Beacon to Stanmer on Saturday Night, to see if he had wandered further afield.

"The Stanmer Village community have been brilliant, we've had people flying their drones looking for him, people sharing on social media.

"I've bumped into endless people who said they'd seen the social media posts, and were coming to the park to help with their dogs.

"The dog walking community is so supportive, and the reaction has been tremendous. Everyone just gels together and wants to help each other out.

"My friend, Nicky, stood in the One Garden car park and accosted every person who was parking their car."

The Argus: Dexter loves to swim in the seaDexter loves to swim in the sea (Image: Annette Beard)

Brian said: "I'm a bit upset, and we're keeping our fingers crossed that he turns up.

"He's such a sweet dog, so many people when we're out walking would go 'Oh, what a wonderful dog', and he'd sit down next to them.

"He loves going into the sea and swimming, and he's such a calm dog which is quite nice.

"Years and years ago I was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, and since having Dexter I've walked so much, I've lost so much weight.

"My blood sugar levels are much better, and in a way he's improved my health.

"He's changed our lives."

The Argus: Brian and daughters Lucy and Rosanna pose for a picture with DexterBrian and daughters Lucy and Rosanna pose for a picture with Dexter (Image: Annette Beard)

The couple hope that Dexter returns soon, and have plans to visit Stanmer Park every day to see if he returns.

"We spoke to someone who suggested we put some meat in the car park in the evenings, where we park the car, and run the engine - In the hope he senses the meat and hears the car.

"We did it last night, where we went to Sainsbury's on Carden Avenue and bought tins of dog meat."

The Argus: The family have had Dexter for seven yearsThe family have had Dexter for seven years (Image: Annette Beard)

Dexter is described as a white and brown English springer spaniel, and was wearing a distinctive triangular neckerchief with the letter "D" on it.

If you have seen Dexter, or have any information that leads to his whereabouts - Please email andrew.gardner@newsquest.co.uk