After three long months and many sleepless nights a young family is full of joy after being reunited with their much-loved dog, who was snatched outside an Auckland burger bar.
Mother-of-two Jo Hodge said she was still in shock since collecting Bowie, a nine-month-old cavoodle, from Manukau Auckland Council Animal Shelter this morning.
"It was just amazing. She came straight over to me, wagging her whole body and just jumped all over me. I was beside myself."
It had been a tough three months for Hodge, her husband Drew Pollock and their two young children since Bowie was stolen while tied to a post for a few minutes outside New Lynn BurgerFuel on an April evening.
Hodge could see their then-6-month-old puppy from inside the Great North Rd burger bar while she waited for her order.
She turned away when her order was ready, and when she turned back to leave the shop Bowie was gone.
"It was horrible not knowing where she was. We hadn't been sleeping well.
"We had so many people looking for her, which was amazing, but it also meant there were a lot of false leads. It was heartbreaking each time we went out to look and it was not her."
At about 8.45am today she got a call from the Manukau Auckland Council Animal Shelter saying they had Bowie.
"I had just returned home from another potential sighting in Titirangi, and so I said, 'Are you sure it's her?' And they said, 'Yes. We checked her microchip.'
"I was just beside myself."
After collecting Bowie she messaged her husband right away to relay the good news, before driving straight home to surprise her children.
"They were watching television in the bedroom and so I brought Bowie into the lounge and called them in. As soon as they saw Bowie they just burst into tears. It was beautiful."
Bowie, a cross between a poodle and a Cavalier King Charles spaniel and named after singer David Bowie, has been a member of the family since they bought her just before Christmas, when she was 8 weeks old.
Son Huxley, 5, calls her "our furry sister".
Huxley's older sister Lyla, 9, had wanted a dog for years.
Bowie was stolen during the last school holidays, and so it was nice to have her back for these school holidays, Hodge said.
"I am meant to be at work today, I don't think I can go. We have got all the toys out of the cupboard, we are just going to spend the day with her."
Bowie was in good health, she said.
"Her hair is not matted, she has been fed and well looked after, wherever she was.
"We believe whoever had her last may not have known she was stolen. Maybe she was just passed along or found."
Just last night the family had put out a $2000 reward for Bowie's safe return.
"It was a final push but nobody has claimed it. We just heard she followed a family home in Manurewa, and they phoned animal control.
"We have a lot of love for that family, whoever they are."
In a Facebook post Auckland Council Animal Shelters said Auckland Council received a call last night from a family whom Bowie had followed home in Manurewa.
As she had a microchip, the Manukau shelter staff were able to search all the databases with her number this morning.
They contacted Hodge with the good news and she came straight to the shelter.
"There were lots of tears of joy and smiles from the staff," the post read.
Auckland Council Animal Shelters said the case proved microchipping was critical for every dog to have.
"It helps reunite dogs with owners in all situations even when having been stolen."
Hodge said the community support, especially from social media group We Want Our Dogs Back NZ. 30 Days And Counting, had been amazing.
"We have been absolutely inundated with messages, sightings all over the country and people keeping their eyes open for her. We are just so thankful."