new year miracle | 

Beloved dog returned to owners after nine days lost in forest

Sam and Georgia lost their precious German Shepherd Nova while Sam was out on his annual family walk on Christmas Day

Belfast dog returned to owners after nine days lost in a forest

Kurtis ReidBelfast Telegraph

A couple from Belfast have said they have “never been happier” after their beloved pet dog was found alive in a river nine days after going missing.

Sam Vaughn, who is from the city centre and Georgia Cope who is originally from Devon, lost their precious German Shepherd Nova while Sam was out on his annual family walk on Christmas Day around Tollymore Forest in Newcastle.

“Nova is a really loving and curious pup, she was following her best friend and our family dog Huan around, sticking to his side at all times” said Sam, speaking to the Belfast Telegraph.

“As we reached the stepping stones, Huan had adventured into a dense forest and Nova was behind. It’s typical for them both to disappear and return only minutes later, but in this occasion it was only Huan who returned. From there I knew straight away that she had got lost.”

Belfast dog returned to owners after nine days lost in a forest

Sam says Huan acts as Nova’s ‘guide’ and without him by her side it made her “panic and run.” Immediately after her disappearance, Sam and his family began the search in the large dense forest, and spent around five hours going from one end to the other.

Georgia, who was in England at the time spending Christmas with her family, said when she got the call from Sam to tell her their beloved pet was lost, she felt “broken and useless” because she couldn’t physically help find Nova.

Nova pleased to be on the way home

She then turned to social media, in the hopes of spreading Nova’s face “like wildlife.” The reaction Georgia says was “heart-warming” with huge groups gathering together to help the search for her dog - however, it proved unsuccessful with days passing and still no sign of Nova.

“After 2-3 days both Sam and I essentially gave up. He spent the two days after she went missing searching and nothing. We still hoped she would be found but it was easier daily to act as if she had passed," said Georgia.

“We just started to grieve her but we both felt like there was just something missing. She was a big part of our lives.”

However, this grief turned to joy, when after nine long days of mourning their beloved missing pet, Sam’s mother received a phone call that a photographer had spotted Nova and a search and rescue team was launched to retrieve her from a river.

“I was at work and got in the car and rushed down. Sam and his mum followed behind,” continued Georgia.

“I cried most of the way down. We were both shaking with excitement and relief, nine days she had been stuck out in the wilderness with no food. It seems like she fell into the river and over a waterfall.

"She doesn't really like the water at the best of times but she managed to pull herself out and get to safety in a cave to wait for someone to rescue her.”

Nova’s rescue was aided by a team from the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service who said they were “delighted to be able to return her” to her owners and shared photographs of her rescue from the woodland.

Firefighters rescue Nova from Tollymore forest

Georgia and Sam say Nova is now happily safe at home and recovering well. The couple say they are taking her to a vet later today (Friday) to ensure her torment didn’t result in any major injuries.

“Right now we are just over the moon and still in disbelief to be honest,” they concluded. “We didn't think we would see her again. She is a little new year miracle and she has proved she is a trouper. We call her our little Supernova.”

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