Losing a beloved pet, in any sense of the word, is utterly heartbreaking. But when you know your furry family member is out there somewhere, scared and alone, going on with life feels impossible. When an 8-year-old Golden Retriever named Neesha was out for a walk with her humans and her German Shepherd brother, Harley, the peacefully snowy day took a dark turn. After spotting a deer in the distance, the dogs took off running before their humans could react.
Harley returned, but Neesha was nowhere to be found. The family returned to the spot where they last saw Neesha time and time again, even bringing a basket of unwashed clothes in the hopes that she’d be drawn to the scent of her family.
They turned to social media to share their story and ask locals to keep their eyes open, and even used drones to scan the area in an attempt to spot their beloved graying pup.
“We went on social media and posted it out. Then a weekend later, we were still looking for her, we were starting to give up hope,” Erina O’Shea Goetelen, one of Neesha’s owners, told the Irish Times. “We just thought she was eight, it’s been two weeks, there was no way she could survive that.”
On a frigid day two weeks after Neesha’s disappearance, Doctors Ciara Nolan and Jean Francois Bonnet were out for a hike when they spotted something unusual at the top of the mountain. As they grew closer, they realized that there, laying near a patch of rocks, was a dog. The dog was too weak to bark or stand, and the hikers knew they were her only chance of survival. They wrapped the shivering dog in their spare clothes and began their descent.
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After several false starts, slipping and falling while attempting to carry the dog down the mountain, the heroic hikers secured the exhausted dog to Bonnet’s backpack using a scarf. Nearly five hours later, the hikers completed their 10 km trek down the mountain and immediately returned home to warm and feed the starving dog.
Nolan and Bonnet reached out to a local rescue group who put them in touch with Neesha’s awe-stricken owners. “On Saturday, I had a voicemail from this girl called Ciara Nolan,” O’Shea Goetelen recalled. “When she said she had our dog, we were like what? You couldn’t. She’s dead. So we contacted her and picked her up from them.”
Finally, Neesha returned home to recover from her traumatic ordeal. She had lost roughly a third of her body weight and seemed to be just as shocked as the rest of her family that she managed to make it home in one piece. Neesha is thrilled to be back with her humans, and understandably, seems to need regular reminders that she’s home for good – that her happy ending isn’t just a dream.
“She snuggles up in her bed sleeping but she gets up now and again for a rub,” O’Shea Goetelen says. “She lifts her head up to look at us.”