A Queenstown family are in “utter shock and total disbelief” after finding their beloved black labrador alive after she had gone missing 24 days earlier.
Ashley Stewart said she and partner Regan Williamson were preparing to explain to their young sons Roxy was gone for good, when she was miraculously found on a neighbouring property on Saturday.
“They were milling some logs on the property and had just sat down for a break when our neighbour saw something out of the corner of his eye,” Stewart said.
The neighbour was aware Roxy was missing and was shocked to get closer and realise she was still alive, albeit trapped in amongst the pile of 6m-long logs.
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Stewart and Williamson were on their way to Cromwell in a camper van when the news came through.
“We were in complete and total shock,” Stewart said.
Remarkable Vets veterinarian Rachel Burt said it was an “absolutely amazing survival story”.
She was not aware of any other case where a dog had been missing, presumed trapped, for so long and survived.
Roxy, who is almost 10, was in an “amazingly good condition.”
“It is surprising given she was most likely stuck those whole 24 days,” Burt said.
Without water Roxy would not have survived. It appears she created a small well trying to dig herself out and there was considerable rain during the time she was missing.
Roxy ate grass and may also have caught and eaten the rabbit she was thought to have chased into the log pile, Burt said.
“She’s probably fortunate she went into it with a bit of extra weight. Typical labrador.”
Stewart said Roxy had been with the family for about six years. They inherited her from close friend Brian Stone, after he died of cancer.
She became a “best bud” to Braxden, 4, and Hesten, 19 months.
“As the weeks went on we were trying our best to be optimistic, but last week we were starting to be more realistic.”
It was unusual for Roxy to go missing from the family’s Gibbston property, although she was known to chase rabbits.
The family wondered if someone had taken her.
After a few days they engaged social media and were surprised hundreds of people got involved in the search, including a group of about 50 who did an organised search in Arrowtown and many more people who reported sightings of black labs.
“Nothing added up. It didn’t make sense that she wouldn’t come home. We were feeling helpless,” Stewart said.
The “miracle” find might be connected to Roxy’s late owner, she said.
“I’d like to think Brian was watching over her.”