A heroic dog that probably saved his owner's life after her car crashed 45m into a gully is home from the pound and has visited his injured owner in hospital.
Kerry Jordan, 63, was driving home from Masterton to Palmerston North last Thursday when her car crashed through a fence on the Pahiatua Track and plunged down the bank into a creek.
She was stuck in the gully for three freezing nights with only Pat, her border collie-kelpie cross, for company and warmth.
First responders believe Jordan crawled out of the car's driver side window, despite having a broken ankle and collarbone and a crushed chest and sternum, and sheltered under a bush with her faithful pet until help arrived.
Jordan was taken to Palmerston North Hospital with critical injuries but is now in a stable condition, a spokesperson for the hospital said.
Meanwhile Pat was taken to the Dannevirke pound where he stayed until Friday.
Close friend Anne Watts said the 5-year-old SPCA rescue dog had visited Jordan in hospital after he was picked up that day.
"She recognised him, she was calling to him - it made her day."
Pat was delighted to see a friendly face when Watts got him home. "He was happy, full of cuddles... not injured at all. He's had a vet check and he's all good."
After three nights in the wild Pat has a healthy appetite, she said.
"I gave him a bowl of food, he seemed still hungry so I gave him another one... it was a meaty dog roll. He loved it."
It's understood Pat's barks eventually managed to attract passers-by who had stopped to check out the broken fence at the top of the Pahiatua Track on Sunday.
They initially thought the wreck was abandoned but looked more closely when they saw a dog barking.
Watts and another friend had both grown increasingly worried when Jordan didn't text them after her drive back to Palmerston North on June 13.
They called repeatedly but got no answer - likely because there was no cellphone coverage in the gully where Jordan had crashed, Watts said. She believed the cellphone had been thrown clear of the car.
Watts was called by police on Monday to say Jordan was in hospital.
"When they told me she was in hospital I was in total shock - I don't know how she survived," the Masterton resident said.
Jordan was in recovery but could still only say a few words at a time, Watts said. She was taking Pat in to see her again this afternoon once she was moved on to a ward.
Crash sparks calls for safety measures
Palmerston North Rescue Helicopter pilot Mike Garrett earlier told the Herald the steep bank meant the car was not immediately visible from the road unless someone got out of their car.
Several commenters on social media said they had driven past and noticed the broken fence, which was on the Pahiatua Track between North Range and Makomako Rds.
Others commented on the dangerous state of the road. A driver who travels the route frequently said it was a "disgusting mess", with ruts and chipped corners making it unsafe.
"It's about time they fix that road... it will save a lot of lives and damaged cars going down banks... Council get some proper road works done, or [are you] going to wait for people to die?"
Another commenter said they had seen a wagon and trailer crashed down a bank last Friday night, but its fall had luckily been halted by a tree.
"Fence rails are needed on that busy road in most places. She would have been found earlier if there was," the person wrote.