A family have found their beloved lost dog after scouring Wagga and Maragle State Forest across 17 days.
The Lidden family, from Sydney’s northern beaches, returned to the Riverina and Snowy Valleys twice during that time to search for Kiah, an 18-month-old female Ridgeback.
Kiah ran off into the forest after being startled by a hunter’s gunshots earlier this month.
At one stage the family thought Kiah might have made a 140-kilometre trek to Wagga after a claimed sighting near the Palm and Pawn Motor Inn.
On Saturday night, the family found Kiah in the Maragle State Forest after she survived heatwaves and the looming threat of bushfires.
Tina Lidden said a second sighting prompted her to drive seven hours from Sydney with her partner, Chris, in a third attempt to find the dog.
“On Friday, we got a call from a lady who was driving to Maragle for work and she said she saw a dog on the road,” Tina said.
“She said she tried to grab the dog but she was petrified and ran.”
Tina and Chris set out food, water and a bed near where Kiah was spotted.
They were later joined by friends from Sydney, who brought along their dog, which was friendly with Kiah.
“We were showing them the area where Kiah was spotted with a torch and we caught some eyes in the bushes about 100 metres off the road,” Tina said.
“Chris went in there to check it out and he thought it might be a fox but then I heard Kiah shake her head her ears whack her head when she shakes and her collar jingles.”
The group spent an hour coaxing Kiah out of the bushes.
“She was scared and unsure but we chucked her favourite treats out and literally inch by inch she started to edge her way,” Tina said.
“Once she came out she relaxed and rolled onto her back.”
Kiah was in good condition considering her 17 days missing, having lost about five kilograms in weight.
The family’s children, Arlo, aged 5 and Indi, aged 3, had been greatly upset by Kiah going missing.
“They are very happy now, we’re all happy to have her back,” Tina said.
More than 6000 people across the region had shared the family’s social media posts offering a reward for Kiah’s safe return.
“It was amazing how many people were aware of it and it was lovely how they commented when we announced we had found her,” Tina said.
Ms Lidden said the family would send a reward to the woman who spotted Kiah on the road at Maragle.