BOISE - The hand-colored sign on Jane Hosteny's garage door says it all: "Welcome Home Emma."
A lost dog's weeks-long trek through the foothills around Boise came to a happy conclusion Sunday, when she reunited with the owner who had never given up searching for her.
Jane Hosteny said Emma, her Labrador and Border Collie mix, ran away while Hosteny was in Denmark visiting family. Hosteny had left her pet at her daughter's home in the North End, but Emma bolted out an open door Sept. 1.
"They searched every day - we must have hundreds of flyers in the North End," she said.
It wasn't until Sept. 6 that someone spotted of the missing dog: A man snapped a photo of her on Bogus Basin Road, but couldn't get close enough to catch her.
Hosteny focused her search, but Emma was already on the move.
"She went from Bogus Basin, I guess just over the ridge to Hidden Springs," she said.
One resident spotted the dog up on top of the ridge, near the water tank. In the following days, people in Hidden Springs caught a glimpse of Emma "every day," Hosteny said.
"Everybody would try to catch her, but she would just run," she said.
Hosteny tried everything she could think of to track down her beloved pet. She hiked and drove all over the foothills, consulted with pet trainers and left out crates with her own clothing and tennis shoes inside, hoping that Emma would recognize her scent.
After the dog was seen near the water tank, Hosteny even hired a drone in an attempt to spot Emma from the air, but rain stymied the search.
Hosteny's search galvanized residents in Hidden Springs and beyond, and everyone pitched in to help.
"The whole community of Hidden Springs was wonderful - everybody was out there searching for Emma, they all knew Emma," she said.
Finally, on Sunday, Hosteny got the call she had been waiting for. A man on 14th Street and his two young daughters had been the latest to see Emma. This time, however, one of the girls was able to clip a leash onto the skittish dog.
Hosteny said Emma recognized her immediately. Her daughter snapped a photo of the emotional reunion.
"Twenty-four days," Hosteny said. "We just never gave up."
A veterinarian determined the dog had lost ten pounds over the course of her journey, but was otherwise fine.
The weeks spent hungry and frightened in the foothills were not Emma's first brush with hardship, Hosteny said. Emma was brought to the Idaho Humane Society as a stray puppy after a car hit her, breaking both her front legs. She ended up in the IDAPI program, which pairs dogs with inmates at Idaho prisons who train them.
When Hosteny applied for a dog in the program seven years ago, organizers told her they had the perfect match.
Hosteny said she was planning a get-together in Hidden Springs, to thank everyone who pitched in to reunite her with Emma.
"Emma's a survivor," she said. "But she's home now."
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