Happy ending to wandering tail
A Dunedin man has been reunited with his dog Jax after he had given up hope of ever seeing him again.
It had almost been a year and a half since he last saw his young pup before a cousin took him on a hunting trip in the Nelson Lakes, near the Rainbow Ski Area. The hunters emerged from the bush, but Jax did not.
‘‘He had been over the West Coast hunting, he was doing really good, and then he just vanished,’’ owner Douglas, who did not want his surname used, said. ‘‘He was there one minute and gone the next.’’
Douglas said he got a call from his cousin who told him, ‘‘I’ve lost your dog’’. They went looking, put posts up, told all the farmers that he was on the run.’’
But no-one had seen Jax. He hadn’t been picked up by any of the local councils.
‘‘He was real young, and we didn’t know if he was going to live or die.’’
That changed this week when Douglas, who lives in Dunedin, got a call from a Control Services officer who said they had checked the microchip of a dog picked up in St Arnaud that was registered to him.
‘‘I was like what do you mean, you’ve found my dog. I was so shocked.
‘‘I’d given up; I didn’t think I would hear anything. To actually get that call while I was at work, I was like ‘oh my god’; I had to stop the forklift and everything.’’
Since he got lost, Jax had been living near St Arnaud, surviving off rubbish and whatever else he could find. Residents had glimpsed him, and Department of Conservation senior biodiversity ranger Nik Joice spent considerable time trying to catch him.
He had been seen in the national park, and there were concerns that he could have killed native birds.
Douglas made the 770-kilometre journey to Nelson, leaving Dunedin on Friday after work to be reunited with Jax on Saturday.
He said he was both excited and nervous to see Jax after such a long time apart.
Tasman District Council animal control officer John Bergman said he hadn’t expected Jax to be so friendly given he had been on his own for so long.
‘‘I thought he would be shy so it’s a good sign.’’
It was initially thought Jax had been on the loose for six months, but it turned out he had been fending for himself in the bush for closer to 16 months.
‘‘He’s got a lovely nature; he is friendly and happy.’’
Arriving at the pound on Saturday, Douglas talked to Jax through the fence before the pair were reunited. ‘‘Jax, come boy,’’ he called. His fears dissipated when he saw his dog, who recognised his name when he called, and then stuck close by his side.
Douglas said Jax was ‘‘way bigger’’ and a ‘‘wee bit lighter’’.
‘‘He goes away a boy and comes back a man, you see.’’
Despite being on his own for over a year, Douglas said Jax appeared well-behaved and ‘‘totally placid’’.
‘‘It’s been a great adventure for the both of us and everyone else involved,’’ he said. ’’I can’t thank the other guys enough, to actually to be able to catch him, its amazing.’’
Douglas said Jax would settle back into life with his other dog in Dunedin and he wouldn’t be hunting anytime soon. ‘‘I’ll get him retrained first, get him around people.’’