Beryl Andresen has absolutely no doubt that her son Phillip's year-old black Labrador Bella was stolen from Phillip's home in Kaitaia on January 12, but that's irrelevant now. Bella's home, not quite as shiny as she was two months ago but fit as a fiddle and happy, thanks to a caring woman in Auckland and a microchip.
Bella disappeared from Worth Street, but as time went by Beryl never lost faith that the dog she mourned for every day would turn up again. Her faith was rewarded last week when she received a phone call from Auckland.
Bella had wandered on to a property in Otara, she said, making herself at home with a woman and three children. A few days later, who Beryl said had looked after Bella very well, took her to a vet to be vaccinated and treated for fleas, the vet finding a microchip that had been flagged to the effect that she had been reported missing.
Phillip wasted no time in driving to Auckland to collect her.
Beryl was convinced that Bella had been stolen: "She loves cars, and might have got into one of her own accord, but she could hardly do that without being noticed," she said. "The best you could say is that she was not taken accidentally."
Bella's disappearance had brought to mind stories Beryl had heard about pets being stolen to fight, or as 'bait' for fighting dogs in training, but did the best to put them out of her mind. Another possibility was that she had been taken as a gun dog.
"She's got a bit of pointer in her, and that would have been right up her alley. I could have lived with that," she said.
She was "over the moon" to have her home again, however.
"I've been missing her so badly, but I never gave up hope," she added.
"I thought about her every day, and worried about what had become of her."
The only parties that were not quite so thrilled to see Bella return were Beryl's cats, Snowball and Apple.
"They don't seem to be so impressed, but they'll get over it," she added.
There is still no news of Rocky, the wire-haired terrier that has been missing from his elderly owner's home on Houhora Heads Road for some weeks (Has anyone seen little Rocky? February 25). Two sightings were reported, one north of Waiharara sounding especially encouraging, but he has not returned to the address where he was seen and searches have proved fruitless.