Sarah Covell and her family had only had their Jack Russell puppy Crumpet for three months when she went missing after disappearing from their garden.
The little dog had been playing with another pet in the secure garden back garden in 2010, while Sarah, now 57, was tending to the family horses in an adjoining yard.
But when she returned to check on Crumpet and fellow dog Totty, the former was nowhere to be found.
The family were devastated and launched a search for the pup, offering a £300 reward for her return, but eventually, Sarah, her husband Mike, 66, and their daughters Tallulah and Elektra, gave up hope of ever seeing Crumpet again.
Sarah, from Sherborne, Dorset, said: “It would have been very unusual for Crumpet to slip out, she had never done it before and she got very attached to my older dog, who was sort of mothering her and they just went around together.
“They were like a little twosome. So it was very unlike her to have wandered off, but she was very friendly and I probably wouldn’t have heard if anyone came up my drive.
“It’s really, really weird. We went everywhere, I mean literally everywhere. We started driving around, we went to the village, we went down the valleys, that week we made flyers, put them up and I got hold of the Dogs Lost lady.
“Then I got on to my microchip company and the vets and everybody. And nothing, absolutely nothing, she just vanished.
“I felt really guilty she wasn’t with me.”
However, on June 12, they were shocked to receive a call from an emergency vet informing them that their dog had been found on a golf course, just a few miles from their house – 11 years after she went missing.
“My reaction to getting the call was slight disbelief to be honest,” Sarah admits.
“It is a bit miraculous that she’s come back into our lives and every morning we’re like wow, she’s still here. So it is a bit weird, but it’s lovely.
“We didn’t even know if we would recognise her, knowing that 11 years had gone by.
“Obviously as soon as we saw her when she came out to us, there she was wiggling around and wagging her tail.
“We were like ‘Ooh yeah! That’s definitely her!’ but obviously she looks very different from when she was a puppy.
“I gave up a year after she had gone so to have her back is amazing.”
She continued: “We thought if someone had taken her, we thought that hopefully, they would look after her, but that’s the saddest thing – they just haven’t looked after her.
“I feel she was dumped, she’s 11 now, she’s past her breeding days.
“She’s obviously had puppies and she needs quite a lot of medical work now, it doesn’t look like she’s ever seen a vet.
“Her ears were very infected, really inflamed with massive growths in them. She had an operation on Monday and they said she is completely deaf, poor little thing. If she was taken to the vets earlier, she definitely wouldn’t be deaf now.
“I think she’s been neglected, it’s criminal they’ve left her ears like that because that is easily solved. She’s going to have to be on steroids now for the rest of her life.”
Despite not knowing the full extent of what Crumpet has been through, Sarah says she’s kept her sweet nature and was very friendly with the vets and the family.
Delighted Sarah said the experience shows the importance of having pets microchipped.
She added: “It’s a very good lesson for anybody – to get your dog microchipped and keep the details up to date.
“It’s one of those crazy things, you never know.”