Lost Dog May Have Used Smell to Find Her Family After Two Years

Murphy may have spent two years in the woods before her family found her.

ByABC News
June 18, 2014, 2:02 PM

June 18, 2014— -- A golden retriever who wandered away from her family at a campsite two years ago may have found her way back to her owners by smelling for her old blanket and their clothes.

Owners Nathan and Erin Braun told ABC News affiliate KXTV that they were camping in Tahoe two years ago when their beloved 5-year-old pet Murphy ran away.

The couple posted fliers and searched for the dog to no avail, but never gave up hope of finding her.

Earlier this month, a camper at a nearby campground saw a dog that looked a little like Murphy. Jason Smith said he was at French Meadows Reservoir when he saw the dog. The Brauns drove to the campground and put down Murphy's blanket along with a baseball cap and other personal effects from the family.

"The very first night I laid it out I heard some movement," Smith said. "There was Murphy sleeping on the blanket. And right there I knew, that's Murphy. That's their dog. It was curled up with its head on the hat."

Smith was able to leash Murphy after a few days and had a friend notify the Brauns, who came and were reunited with Murphy at the campground.

"It was very touching," Smith said. "The whole family was crying. I was doing my best to not cry."

The Brauns took the retriever home but noticed some "subtle" physical differences that didn't remember about their dog that they said might be attributable to Murphy living in the wilderness for two years.

Nathan Braun said they are 99 percent sure it is Murphy but are awaiting DNA tests.

The Brauns did not return calls from ABC News today.