How a young purebred husky came to be wandering lost and injured in the Catlins remains a mystery, but the kindness of strangers has seen the dog saved from death.
Nala, now minus one leg after a life-saving operation, is recuperating in Invercargill and awaiting a new home. She turned up at a farmhouse ''in the middle of nowhere'' south of Owaka two weeks ago, Clutha District Council dog ranger Karenne Walker said.
''When I went there the same day I was expecting a farm dog, but here was this beautiful husky - lovely natured and friendly, although injured and very thin.''
Miss Walker, who deals with about 100 lost dogs annually, said Nala's gentle and trusting nature ''touched her heart''. She took her to Peter Heslip at Clutha Vets, who said Nala had an infection in a leg bone and the only options were to amputate the injured leg or put her down. The vet agreed to discount his bill and council staff raised $300 in a whip-around.
Another $100 was donated by a Balclutha business owner.
Miss Walker was referred to Jo and Karl Thomas, of Wallacetown, near Invercargill, who run a dog-care business and own seven huskies. The Thomases agreed to help Nala, contributing to her surgery and after-care costs, rallying support from Invercargill K9 Cribs owner Kim Findlay, who offered to board Nala free until she could be found a new home.
Efforts to find her a new family are being co-ordinated by Christchurch charity Husky Rescue New Zealand. Miss Walker drove to Wallacetown on Friday to deliver Nala to the Thomases. As Mrs Thomas petted Nala, she cuddled into her and licked her hand.
''Look at her - isn't she sweet? We'll have to find her a forever home,'' Mrs Thomas said.
Nala is registered and microchipped. The microchipping had provided Miss Walker with the dog's name, her age (2) and the name of her Christchurch owner. He told her he had sold Nala two weeks before she was discovered in the Catlins. She said she was pleased Nala had the chance of a new life and a new home.
''So many of the dogs I deal with end up having to be put down. It's nice to be involved with a story that has a happy ending.''