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'I just about fell over': Elderly dog found after 60 days missing

Author
David Haxton,
Publish Date
Wed, 15 May 2024, 3:38pm
Chris Alty with family dog Sydney who is back at home after being missing for 60 days. Photo / David Haxton
Chris Alty with family dog Sydney who is back at home after being missing for 60 days. Photo / David Haxton

'I just about fell over': Elderly dog found after 60 days missing

Author
David Haxton,
Publish Date
Wed, 15 May 2024, 3:38pm

Chris Alty and her family feared the worst after their golden labrador Sydney had been missing for so long without a trace.

The Waikanae family had done everything possible to try and find their beloved family dog from searching the streets, letterbox flyers, notices in shops, and social media blitzes, to contacting Nelson-based dog tracking specialist Don Schwass.

Sydney, 14, had vanished from the family property in Winara Ave on March 6 after being spooked by fireworks that had been let off nearby.

Days turned into weeks and then into months with no sign of Sydney.

“We had lost hope,” Chris said.

But then, out of the blue, a midday message popped up on Christine’s smartphone, from a person who lives in nearby Kotare St.

The message sender said he thought he had seen Sydney as an elderly skinny dog with a blue collar had come onto his property.

“I just about fell over,” Chris said.

Sydney is back home after a long time missing. Photo / David Haxton
Sydney is back home after a long time missing. Photo / David Haxton

She went to the person’s property but despite a lot of searching couldn’t find Sydney.

But Chris’s hopes were raised when she showed the property owner a photo of Sydney and he was sure it was her.

Chris got in touch with Schwass to formulate a plan to try and attract Sydney back to the property.

She left her jacket on the property so if it was Sydney, she would know the scent, and started to investigate buying a sensor camera to get an idea of when she was visiting the property.

The next morning Sydney was back, seeking food scraps, and the property owner took a photo of her before she walked off towards bushclad hills.

Sydney on the day she was found.
Sydney on the day she was found.

And then, later in the morning, Chris got a message that she was at the property again, and as she approached, heard the property owner shout out, “I’ve got her”.

The person had sat down, and talked calmly, which gave Sydney the confidence he wasn’t a threat.

“She came over to him, he managed to hold her collar, and I arrived at that time.”

After 60 days missing, Chris was delighted to be reunited with Sydney, but happiness turned to concern.

“She was just a bundle of bones.”

Chris didn’t think Sydney recognised her as she had been focussing on simply surviving and everyone was seen as a threat.

“You could see it in her eyes that she was overwhelmed by it all and very anxious.”

Chris gave her some dog biscuits which she hungrily ate before taking her for a vet check.

“They couldn’t believe that she was in remarkably good physical health but had lost 10kg which was a third of her body weight.”

Back home, Sydney has been putting on weight via some specialised dog food and an eating plan “She was only on 25 per cent of her daily intake to start with but has gone up to 100 per cent over the course of a week.

The golden lab found it hard to settle and would circle the family dining room but is now “back to the Sydney we knew.”

Chris said the family had “lovely support” from people when they learnt Sydney had been found.

“I’ve had people ringing me up in tears. Certainly a happy ending.”

A close eye is being kept on Sydney and a GPS tracker will be attached to her collar.

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