The scent of home: How one lost dog found her family after 2 years in wilderness
A golden retriever that got separated from her owners during a camping trip in California's Tahoe National Forest was reunited with her family and doing well after apparently surviving on her own for nearly two years in the wilderness, the family said.
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Erin and Nathan Braun were on a camping trip in October 2012 when the dog, named Murphy, went missing, according to the Los Angeles Times. The couple posted fliers and created a Facebook page about the disappearance to no avail.
Twenty months later, a camper at the French Meadows Reservoir, not more than five miles (eight km) from where the Brauns lost Murphy, spotted the pet and alerted the family, according to a Facebook post written by the couple earlier this month.
After several unsuccessful days of trying to track the dog down, the Brauns decided to leave her bed and several items of their own clothing with the camper, hoping Murphy would pick up their scent and return to the area.
It worked, and a week later the Brauns were notified that the camper had coaxed Murphy onto a leash after finding her sleeping on the clothing left for her. Murphy was reunited with her family in mid-June.
“As you can imagine, we are completely shocked and amazed with the miracle of her surviving this long,” the Brauns wrote in a June 16 Facebook post. “She is on the road to recovery, very thin and frail but happy to be home with her family. Words cannot describe how grateful we are.”
It appears Murphy could have spent nearly two years in the forest, though parts of the neighboring area are more developed than others, according to Tahoe National Forest spokesman Michael Woodbridge.
“It can get pretty good snowfall, that’s for sure,” he said. “It’s not too far from wilderness. French Meadows Reservoir is a dammed-up river, so it’s developed around there. Depending on where you are on the reservoir, there are developed recreation sites and a road there.”
Tim McGagin, kennel manager for golden retriever rescue and sanctuary organization Homeward Bound, sent out volunteers to retrieve Murphy after she was first sighted.
“She was slightly emaciated, but she wasn’t dying,” he said. “Somebody probably left food out, or left their garage door open. Generally in that area, she wouldn’t have made it through the winter months.”