Most dogs have heard the call to the wild a few times in their life, darting off down the road, or out the front gate, to chase cars or simply just see what’s out in the world beyond the fence.
Not many decide that they want to spend their day-long journey with a lamb.
In an adventure that conjures thoughts of the 1989 movie The Adventures of Milo and Otis, Susan Lampough’s kelpie dog decided that a stroll with her lamb companion would be the best way to spend an afternoon.
Susan, who lives in Turill, was going about her daily routine of feeding the horses and making sure that everything on the farm was fine when Bella and the newest member of the farm, the little lamb Cliffy, disappeared.
At first Susan suspected that Bella had “gone to play with the boys”, meaning that she had wandered over to her neighbour’s house to play with the other dogs that were living there.
When time stretched on however, she began to believe that they had run away.
“Normally what happens is that we have a little routine and Bella the dog and the little lamb would go out with me and we would go out to the feed shed and we’d get a few biscuits of hay and feed the horses,” Susan explained.
“Normally the lamb sits in the sun on the verandah and Bella will sit somewhere else – they’ve never really been buddies, but I went outside and they weren’t there.”
“I went and fed the horses and came back expecting to see them sitting there and they still weren’t there, so instantly I was concerned.”
It was a farm-wide man-hunt after Susan realised that the dog and the lamb weren’t at her neighbour’s house, and between Susan and her helpful neighbours they covered almost five hundred acres looking for the escapist duo.
“Bella goes and visits my neighbours’ dogs – “Bella’s gone to hang out with the boys again” – and so I rang Janet, my neighbour, and left a message to say I was going to have a look for them.
“I had a look across the last 25 acres of my property but they weren’t there, so it occurred to me that Bella might actually be missing,” Susan said.
“When she leaves she wanders back normally, so we rang the radio station and started searching wider and searching down roads.
After five hours, Susan turned to social media, where she posted a missing notice on the Mudgee community page.
“They’d been gone for five hours, but when I came back to the house my daughter called me all the way from Bathurst and told me that a lady on the page had found them together,” Susan said.
The adventurous pair were found out on Cliffdale Road, nearly three kilometers as the crow flies, Susan explained.
“I’m one kilometer off the road, and Cliffdale is another two kilometers away so they had to travel all that distance to end up where they did,” she said.
After having both of the animals for just under a year, Susan was so relieved to have them back home with her.
The lamb had joined her in her family just a month before, adopted from Wellington, while Bella had been adopted a year before.
“I know it sounds really cliche, but I really think it’s a miracle. It’s a miracle that they stayed together and that they were found – unhurt – by really lovely people,” Susan said.
“I don’t understand why Bella ended up where they were, so whether it was the dog leading the lamb or the lamb leading the dog, we may never know.”