Lost dog reunited with owners after 9 weeks

Cocoa, the dog, has lost about 15-20 pounds but is now safe and back home. She disappeared during a camping trip and for 9 weeks survived in the forest north of Payson. She was found about 20 miles from where she disappeared.

- Cocoa, the dog, has lost about 15-20 pounds but is now safe and back home.

She disappeared during a camping trip and for 9 weeks survived in the forest north of Payson. She was found about 20 miles from where she disappeared.

She is a chocolate lab mix, and she was reunited with her owners and two other dogs. The dogs were camping when Cocoa took off.

"Pete and Echo came out of a bush about 10 yards away, and Cocoa had vanished," said Greg Fries.

The dog's owner did what he could. He posted fliers all over the area. It took a while but soon the calls started coming in.

"Over time we would get a sighting, drive and look around, and nothing," said Fries.

Over 9 weeks they made seven trips up north to search for the dog.

"We even had like six people on horseback, a couple of people on ATV's," he said.

Recently more calls came in, far from the campsite where the dog vanished. The sightings were in Strawberry about 20 miles away. Volunteers from Central Arizona Animal Search & Rescue setup a trap stuffed with food and other special items.

"We put our clothes in there with our scent," said Fries.

The trap worked, and volunteers found Cocoa inside Tuesday morning.

"I was ecstatic; I was crying. They're an amazing group of people that volunteer their time and emotions and efforts to do this. I cannot begin to express my appreciation for what they've done," said Fries.

Cocoa had her collar on the whole time and was microchipped which helped reunite her with her owners faster.

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