Happy end­ing to wan­der­ing tail

Nelson Mail - - NEWS - SA­MAN­THA GEE

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.’’

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