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Dog found after 2 years in wilderness: Murphy emaciated, but alive and home

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In 2012 a family's golden retriever went missing during a camping trip in the wilderness of the Tahoe National Forest. The family searched for Murphy and posted numerous flyers in the area where he went missing. They took to the social networks for help and exhausted every avenue looking for their four-legged family member to no avail, according to Today on June 24.

After 20 months passed with Murphy still missing, a camper in the Tahoe National Forest spotted the dog and alerted the owners Erin and Nathan Brauns. The camper got in touch with the Brauns via their Facebook posting about their missing dog. The camper was at the French Meadows Reservoir, which was about five miles away from where Murphy disappeared, when he spotted the golden retriever, according to Yahoo News.

The Brauns went back into the forest near where the camper had seen the golden retriever, but again they could not find the dog. They decided to leave Murphy's bed along with some of their own clothing, hoping that this would prompt Murphy to pick up the scent and come back. They left the items with the camper who said he would keep an eye out for the dog.

About a week past when the camper found Murphy sleeping on the bed with the clothing. He was able to get Murphy on a leash and coax him into his camper for safe keeping. The family was finally reunited with Murphy.

The family wrote on their Facebook page how happy they were to have Murphy back home, but said she is very "thin and frail" from surviving in the wilderness on her own for almost two years. The fact that she survived on her own is amazing, said the Brauns on their Facebook page.

Murphy is "on the road to recovery" and getting stronger everyday. Most of all the dog appears very happy to be back at home. The family also posted "Words cannot describe how grateful we are."

Tahoe National Forest spokesperson Michael Woodbridge said that "it appears that Murphy could have spent nearly two years in the forest." He conveyed that some of the forest area is more developed than others, but the weather in the forest can be harsh in the winter.

The French Meadows Reservoir, the area where Murphy was first spotted, has developed recreational areas. The reservoir has a road and people are around this spot that sits on the edge of the wilderness. Because the winter is so harsh and they get hefty snowfalls in that area it is believed that Murphy may have had some help during her almost two-year disappearance.

Tim McGagin, who is a kennel manager at a golden retriever rescue agency called Homeward Bound, said that he thinks people left food for the dog and maybe left a garage door open for the dog to sleep inside during the harsh winter nights.

While the dog "was slightly emaciated, she wasn't dying," said McGagin. He also said that in that area without help "she wouldn't have made it through the winter months."

McGagin sent volunteers out to the reservoir area when Murphy was first spotted by the camper. That dog was a hard one to locate. When it boiled down to it, Murphy was only found because she recognized the scent of her bed and the family's clothes and came to them.

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