Stolen Staffordshire terrier Muffin was tracked to the backyard of a Northland property nearly 800km from her home kennel.
The family pet was dognapped from Featherston — in south Wairarapa — but thanks to the reach of social media, some vigilant canine lovers and police, the pet was found in Ruakaka.
The canine victim, described by her owners as the "perfect dog", has now been reunited with her humans, but it was an anxious two-week wait.
The heartache for Grace Bellsprout-Koedijk, her partner, and four children Alice, Aurora, Eric and Edith began when six-year-old Muffin was taken from her backyard under the cover of darkness on October 3.
Muffin had been put outside for her nightly doggy business. Due to the hub-bub of the family bedtime ritual, Muffin was left outside.
"It wasn't until the morning when she didn't come in and jump on the bed and wake me up like normal I began to wonder," Bellsprout-Koedijk said.
A scout of the section failed to find her so the children were gathered up, put in the car and a search of the neighbourhood began.
Phone calls were made to the council to see if she had been taken to the pound.
Posts were put on social media, including photos of the missing pooch.
"She's gone missing before for four days but she's always come back. She's so friendly I thought she might have gone off with someone."
But as the days passed it looked more ominous.
Bellsprout-Koedijk said she had got Muffin when she was just three weeks old. Her four children and Muffin had grown up with each other and had a special bond.
Pictures of Muffin were posted on social media pages across New Zealand, and was picked up by Rachel Lyon of Facebook page Missing K9 Response Wellington.
An anonymous tipster was able to give enough information that revealed Muffin had been taken to a Northern location.
Lyon said police were contacted and Senior Constables Anthony Rogers and Martin Geddes were able to locate and uplift Muffin last Wednesday.
Muffin was taken to the station where she was promptly given milk and one of officer's lunches.
"I love my dogs and she was a really kindhearted dog. She knew she wasn't in the right place," Rogers said.
It was instant relieve for Lyon when officers confirmed they had Muffin.
With the help of animal control officers in Whangārei Muffin was put on a plane to Auckland, transferred to another plane to Wellington, where she was collected by Lyon.
She drove Muffin home on Friday.
The reunion of dog with family was full of licks, smiles and pats.
"She was ecstatic and couldn't sit still which was pretty much the kids reaction too," Bellsprout-Koedijk said.
She would like to see the person who took Muffin faces charges as she described it as akin to kidnapping.
Police confirmed enquiries were continuing into the alleged theft.
Lyon started Missing K9 Response 18 months ago to reunite dogs with their owners, but this case was a highlight.
"I have a real passion when it comes to stolen animals and I have zero tolerance for it. It's like taking a family member."
Unfortunately dog thefts were on the rise, she said.
"When some dogs are taken they are never returned home and that's heartbreak for the owners."
Lyon said getting information spread widely to the public by using social media was the key to getting a positive result.