The family thought the Border Terrier Nico (8) was running on the eternal hunting grounds. But after just over a month with a dog on the run, they received the world’s best New Year’s gift.
On New Year’s Eve, the little hunting dog scratched the door of a house near where deer hunter Per Ivar Lomheim (53) from Hafslo usually parks the car. By then, Nico (8) had lost almost half his body weight after 33 days of wilderness life on the loose.
Sogn Avis mentioned the case first.
Niko disappeared on November 27 during a deer hunt at Eikjastrondi in Luster municipality. Since then, Lomheim has not seen the snout of the dog that disappeared when he got rid of a deer.
– It is unbelievable that he has managed to survive. It has been 14-15 degrees below zero and all kinds of weather, says Lomheim relieved and happy in a telephone interview with VG.
– He was shaggy, but recognized us.
Full search operation
Nearly a hundred people, among them members of the Hafslo Red Cross Auxiliary Corps, have lined up as search crews. After two weeks of zero results, the family began to lose hope.
– We have light everywhere in the hunting area with manngard and drone. The Red Cross went manngard and we easily got really good in the terrain the first days, because then there was no snow, says Lomheim and emphasizes that he is grateful for the local community’s efforts:
– People have lined up and taken trips by both car and boat to look for him. They have also brought their own dogs to apply. After fourteen days, I began to lose hope, but I continued to look for him.
Now Niko is nursed back to the hooks by Lomheim and the family, and lives on an “almost dead” diet prescribed by the vet. He has also been given antibiotics and fluids intravenously.
– He was 5 kilos when I got him back, but the vet said that the last time he was weighed at control was 8.5 kilos. He has lost almost half his body weight. He must have found some water and snow, he has probably found running water somewhere, but he has hardly eaten much, Lomheim thinks.
– There is no indication that he was stuck, there were no marks on the body.
The farm owner talks about cheers in the family after Niko’s return. Both the wife and the four children are delighted.
– Everyone loves the dog. The children are from 17 to 24 years old, so they are well grown, but still it gets strange here when he disappears. He is a calm and nice family dog, praises Lomheim.
– How does he behave after the incident?
– I was a little excited about whether the behavior would change, but there is no change yet. I just have to feed him a little carefully so it does not go too fast.
He himself thought that Niko had been taken by an eagle when the dog never returned, as there are a number of eagles in the area where the hunt takes place.
– It has happened before that dogs the size of Niko have been taken by eagles. I do not know what happened, but he went after the deer and probably has not found back to me, I think. The terrain is pretty rough and there are many places he can stand without being able to hear my voice.
The next deer hunt, Lomheim plans to use longline. Niko is a quiet type who follows the track without making a sound. The father is therefore dependent on GPS to be able to follow where the dog is. He also had it during the hunting trip when Niko disappeared, he thought.
But when Lomheim was reading about where the dog was, he discovered to his horror that he had not turned on the button on the leash. Thus, there was zero contact to be had.
For dogs like Nico, it is not uncommon to walk up to two kilometers from the owner when following tracks. But normally he always returns by following the trail back to the hunter.
– I have been too lethargic when I put on the tape and did not hold the button long enough. It was a bit unfortunate that it should happen on the hunt he disappeared. Had the GPS worked, I would most likely have found him the next day, says Per Ivar Lomheim.
This season, the hunting team he is part of has fielded five deer in total. But some venison is not common in Niko:
– He has probably tasted a little while he has been on and nibbled on the animal, but he is not served meat, no. He eats dry food.
– How does it feel to hunt your own game?
– It’s absolutely fantastic. It’s nice to have Niko with us. He is keen on the track and enjoys hunting very much. But if I have shot more animals because he is with, I do not know.
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