Lost dog turns up after six months

By Kiri Gillespie

They say cats have nine lives but an intrepid dog could tell a few stories after she was found in Tauranga, six months after she went missing in a Bay of Plenty forest.

The boxer-cross was found roaming a section of State Highway 29 earlier this month and Tauranga City Council animal control was called to pick her up.

Whanganui woman Shirleen Ashworth said she could not believe it when she received a call from Tauranga saying her dog named Loose had been found.

"I wish I could talk to her about what she's been up to and where she's been."

Ms Ashworth's husband had taken Loose and their other dog to work with him at Lismore Forest near Rotorua six months ago, as he always did.

But on this occasion both dogs took off into the bush and did not return.

"We spent eight weeks scouring the forest for them and just couldn't find them," Ms Ashworth said.

The couple owned Loose for six years and the dog was "best friends" with their four-year-old daughter.

With no trace of either dog, Ms Ashworth gave up hope.

"The last thing I expected was a phone call from the council in Tauranga of all places."

Animals services team leader Brent Lincoln said Ms Ashworth was "over the moon to get her dog back".

"They just jumped in the car and came up straight from Whanganui and went back in the same day."

Mr Lincoln said it was obvious someone adopted Loose for a while but it was rewarding reuniting the dog with her original owners.

"The thing that capped it off was the dog's reaction when she saw this lady," Mr Lincoln said.

"You could tell straight away the dog knew her. She started pacing and jiggling around all over the place."

Mr Lincoln said the pre-Christmas reunion was an example of the benefits of microchipping pets.

"We had another a week later where the dog had been missing for about a week. It had been impounded in Rotorua but it was microchipped. We managed to reunite him with his Tauranga owners."

In January this year, a dog not seen by its owner for two years was found wandering the beach at Tauranga. Lilly, an English bulldog was scanned for a microchip which traced her back to her Feilding owner.

Sixty-one per cent of dogs in the Tauranga area are microchipped - more than 5500 dogs. Microchipping has been compulsory for all newly registered dogs since 2006.

Mr Lincoln said microchipping involved injecting a small chip, about the size of a grain of rice, under the skin around the shoulder blades of the dog.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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