Wilderness survival stories are always fraught with tension, and the story of Benny the beagle is no different.
Benny was on a pack walk in New Zealand's Belmont Regional Park, north of Wellington, on April 6, when he got separated from the group. For the next nine days, Benny survived in the park while his humans, Matt and Grace Newman-Hall, organized a search for him.
The search involved many volunteers, lots of flyers and even a helicopter. The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) also helped, providing a thermal imaging camera and a megaphone, according to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
The Newman-Halls set up a Facebook group called Bring Benny Home for people to provide any clues about where he might be. Most messages were from strangers who said they had gone to the park to aid in the search for the beagle.
Benny's hiding spot
Benny, it turned out, hadn't wandered too far from where he originally had gotten lost, at least distance-wise. Height-wise is another story, however.
Friends of the family scaled a ravine in the park on April 15, ascending a waterfall in the hopes of finding Benny.
"They went on an epic mission up a ravine, climbed a waterfall and risked their own safety in the hopes of coming across him," Grace wrote in a Facebook post. "Benny was not making a peep, but somehow they managed to find him anyway.
"He was stuck to a log by the lead, unable to move more than a few steps in any direction. Luckily, he had access to water."
This hiding spot had allowed Benny to elude the estimated 1,000 volunteers, to say nothing of the helicopter.
It took about three hours for the rescuers and Benny to descend from the ravine. Benny listened well and followed instructions during the whole ordeal.
And Benny was also in relatively good shape. While he had gone without food all this time, there was a stream of water nearby, which kept him hydrated. The dog was taken to an emergency vet where he showed a slight temperature and a loss of about 6.5 pounds (3 kilograms).
"Overall he has come out of his ordeal in very good health," Grace wrote.
'I spent most of the night watching him breathe because it didn’t quite feel real to me yet!' Grace explained when she posted this image of Benny sleeping between her and Matt. (Photo: Bring Benny Home/Facebook)
Benny took a very long snooze once he got back home, sleeping between his two humans during the night of his return.
According to Stuff, the Newman-Halls hope to organize a community barbecue so they can thank volunteers with delicious food and doggy kisses.