BOISE -- Hannah Anderson's father, Brett Anderson, spoke to the media at a fundraiser event in San Diego and publicly thanked the four Idaho horseback riders Thursday, but this wasn't the first time they heard from Brett.

KTVB's Dee Sarton learned that and much more as she spent an afternoon at their horse barn in Sweet, hearing about all that has happened since they first called in the tip that led to Hannah's rescue.

The FBI was sittin at our table talking to all four of us and I said, 'I sure hope we're not sending you gentlemen on a wild goose chase,' and it was just a couple of hours later there was a big news flash saying they had found the car and had confirmed that it was theirs. What a relief that was. said Mark John, one of the horseback riders who spotted Hannah Anderson.

Relief followed by two days of worry for these four horseback riding friends. While they waited for news about the young girl and older man they had encountered on a rugged backcountry trail, they replayed their two brief encounters with them over and over.

And I can still see the look on her face, and she had some fear in her eyes there, said Mike Young, another one of the riders.

Now that the ordeal is over, Hannah Anderson safe and James DiMaggio killed by FBI agents, they are learning how other perplexing details of their interaction with the two fall together, for instance, the cat.

They were not prepared to be in that kind of country, and then with the cat and everything, they stuck out like you wouldn't believe, said John.

But turns out, the cat was more than just a red flag to the Johns and Youngs.

From what we found out, he had bought the cat for Hannah to kind of pacifier her because she loved cats. My guess is, that cat is the only comfort she had in this ordeal, said Young.

And according to Young, [the cat was] a critical clue that led to Hannah Anderson's rescue. Because that's the first thing they seen with their surveillance was the cat that's what gave it away. So the cat's the one that broke the case.

And I found out since that the kitty is safe with Hannah. So that's really a good outcome, two lucky survivors, said Mark John's wife Christa John.

These two couples say they will forever feel a strong connection to Hannah and her family, a connection that was solidified with a surprising phone call.

Friday night we were over visiting with Mike and Mary and we get a phone call, and it was Hannah's father, and he was just so thankful. He said, 'I'm eternally grateful.' It was great, and the grandparents talked to us the same way. It was very emotional, it really hit us hard bringing tears to our eyes, said John.

Emotions followed by action, the four have set up a Hannah Anderson Recovery Fund.

She's going to have a long recovery ahead of her and every penny will go to her, none of it for us or anybody else, said John.

If you'd like to contribute to the Hannah Anderson Recovery Fund, you can do so at any Wells Fargo Bank.

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