Dog lost for two weeks found in Wicklow mountains

Golden retriever Neesha rescued by doctors after bolting after a deer during a family hike

A dog who defied the odds by surviving for two weeks alone in the snow-covered Wicklow mountains has been reunited with her grateful owners.

On January 23rd, while on a walk on Lugnaquilla mountain in Co Wicklow, eight-year-old golden retriever Neesha and three-year-old German shepherd Harley bolted after a deer.

The family searched for the dogs that evening but could not find them. Returning the next day to continue searching, they found Harley in the car park but no sign of Neesha.

The family used a drone and left a basket of unwashed laundry on the trail, hoping Neesha would catch the scent, but nothing worked.


“We went on social media and posted it out. Then a weekend later, we were still looking for her, we were starting to give up hope,” Erina O’Shea Goetelen, one of Neesha’s owners, said.

Another week went by. “We just thought she was eight, it’s been two weeks, there was no way she could survive that.”

However, on Saturday, Jean-Francois Bonnet and Ciara Nolan, two doctors hiking on the mountain, found a cold, weak dog who could not walk or bark near the summit.

The couple wrapped her in spare clothes and tried to carry her down the mountain, but the terrain was icy and they fell a few times.

Ms Nolan used her scarf to attach Neesha to Mr Bonnet’s backpack, and they continued their descent, a journey of about 10km, which took four-five hours.

They brought the dog to their house, fed her and warmed her up, and contacted the local animal rescue group, which tracked down her owners.

Mrs O’Shea Goetelen said: “On Saturday, I had a voicemail from this girl called Ciara Nolan. When she said she had our dog, we were like what? You couldn’t. She’s dead. So we contacted her and picked her up from them,” she said.

Weight loss

Neesha lost a third of her body weight while on the mountain, and developed dermatitis, but Mrs O’Shea Goetelen said she was back to her usual self.

“When she did get home here, she was a little bit subdued. I think she was suffering from post-traumatic stress for the first couple of hours. She slept by my son’s bed, which normally she doesn’t,” she said.

“She’s wagging her tail here. You wouldn’t think there was anything wrong with her, apart from her weight. She’s lying in her basket here and she’s quite happy and contented.

“She snuggles up in her bed sleeping but she gets up now and again for a rub. She lifts her head up to look at us.”

Shauna Bowers

Shauna Bowers

Shauna Bowers is Health Correspondent of The Irish Times