A LITTLE dog lost in bushland at Darlington has bounced back from her ordeal and been reunited with her rescuer for a special presentation.
Sasha the 14-year-old Maltese Shitzu cross today received a bravery and resilience award from assistance dog organisation Assistance Paws at Worendo Cottages where she went missing during the Christmas Eve storm.
Sasha's owner Claire Allen said she had all but given hope of ever finding her dog alive when Nathan Overell from Worendo Cottages called on New Year's Eve to say she had been found.
Mr Overell said he was on the way to a friend's funeral when he spotted Sasha more than four kilometres from the property.
"I just saw her in my rear view mirror and stopped to check," he said.
"She looked like she was relieved to be found and just came out of the bushes and sat down to wait for me."
Mr Overell said he had Sasha in his head because he, along with local neighbours and visiting guests had all been looking for her since she went missing.
Although dehydrated, starving and covered in ticks, Ms Allan said Sasha had rallied since her ordeal, returning to her normal weight and overcoming the first stages of tick paralysis.
Lisa Robinson from Assistance Paws said citations were normally awarded to animals who do something for humans.
"But when I saw the impact Sasha had on people after the post went viral, that is exactly what Sasha did," she said.
"I shared the post to our US group and people were saying they were in tears at hearing the good news.
"We are making Sasha our first ever social influencer and awarding her an Assistance Paws medallion for bravery and resilience... and for being a small Christmas miracle in a sometimes hard time of year for many people."
Ms Allan was surprised with the bravery medal after driving to the Scenic Rim from her home at Cornubia thinking it was going to be a reunion with Nathan and a photo shoot with the Beaudesert Times.
There were more surprises in store as Mr Overell presented Ms Allan with a gift voucher for a future stay at Worendo Cottages and Ms Allan gave Mr Overell some personalised hand-crafted cookies.
"Also, when I posted on the lost and found I actually put a reward down," she said. 'I was obviously willing to pay whatever I could to get her back. There was a reward of $1000... so that's with our love and forever appreciation for stopping, caring, picking her up."
Mr Overell and his wife Jodie said they would donate the reward money to the RSPCA bushfire appeal.