German shepherd mix reunited with owner after a year lost in bear-infested woods

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A German shepherd mix dog has been reunited with her delighted owner after spending a year lost in bear-infested woodland.

Michelle MacLean's beloved pooch River took off from a friend's house on December 30 last year in Portapique, Canada, just two months after Michelle had got her.

The friend was looking after River whilst Michelle was moving house, with Portapique roughly 10km from Michelle's home in Great Village.

"We were just in the beginning stages of getting to know one another and we really were just at the tip of that iceberg," Michelle explained.

Desperate to find River, she contacted the Nova Scotia Lost Dog Network, a Facebook group that helps track down missing dogs.

Kim Hillier was moved by Michelle's post and volunteered her services, having taken a course on finding missing animals.

Kim got to work, not just slapping up lost dog posters but setting up traps and surveillance cameras in the woods around where River went missing.

"Mentally, it is exhausting," said Kim, who lost 10lbs from all the walking.

"It costs a lot and people just don't get it."

The cameras sent notifications to Kim's phone whenever they detected motion, and revealed that River had made several stops around Nova Scotia before arriving near to Michelle's home.

However, the cameras don't just detect dogs. Two days before River was captured a huge bear appeared in one of the traps, close to River.

Kim said: "I'm like, 'Oh my God. I have to get her'."

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River had even appeared near to the very same trap several times before, but was reluctant to wander in.

Then, last Thursday at around 4am, Kim got a flurry of notifications.

"First camera showed her outside the trap," she said.

"Second one showed her inside. Third picture showed that the door was set.

"Boom! I was out the door and up there within five minutes."

"You couldn't take the smile off my face all day," said Millie Hanlan, who helped Kim bait the trap and fetch River.

Michelle described Kim as an "angel" and has put money towards the cost of the year long search. A crowdfunding campaign has also been launched to pay for the costs and River's vet bills.

River came out of the ordeal in extraordinarily good health. A check up at the vets confirmed she was fine apart from having Lyme disease, which is now being treated with antibiotics.

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The pooch is currently "decompressing" at Kim's house before returning to Michelle.

The hero dog finder admitted that she is going to miss River after months of pursuing her.

"That's going to be a hard day," she said of returning River to Michelle's house.

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