Somehow, Nushka was able to survive the elements as a dedicated group of volunteers tracked her moves after she escaped a fatal car crash.

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dog wearing service dog vest
Credit: Navajo County Sheriff's Office

An Arizona family that lost a loved one in a January car crash had been holding out hope for weeks that the beloved service dog who was also in the car somehow survived.  

Thankfully, John Bemies' relatives reunited with Nushka, his 5-year-old Belgian Malinois, 23 days after the crash site that left Bemies dead on State Route 377 on Jan. 11. According to the Navajo County Sheriff's Office, Nushka had been missing for 19 days. She reunited with her family Tuesday. 

Bemies, a former law enforcement officer, and Nushka, a retired K-9 officer, were inseparable. Along with being a loving companion, Nushka also helped Bemies cope with post-traumatic stress disorder, KPNX-TV reported

"They were just something else. I'd never seen them apart. Hardly ever," Bemies' son, Trey Bemies, told the TV station.

Immediately after the crash, which occurred near the eastern Arizona city of Holbrook, deputies and troopers tried to locate Nushka, but she had presumably run away after being frightened by the crash, the sheriff's office said. 

The day after the crash, the Humane Animal Rescue and Trapping Team (HARTT) from nearby Rim County arrived to help look for the missing dog. There were a few sightings reported and limited tracks attributed to Nushka. Several snow storms and frigid temperatures also blew through the area, worrying the searchers. 

It also worried Gail Johnson, who'd been helping the HARTT team search for Nushka. Johnson was working with HARTT volunteer Brent Reed, who told KPNX that someone reported a Nushka sighting nine days after the crash. She had stayed within two miles of the crash site. On Saturday (Jan. 30) at 10 a.m., Reed and Johnson placed new food and water in a humane trap and made sure the camera was working. 

Fewer than three hours later, images sent to Reed's phone showed Nushka in the trap. She spent a few days at the local animal shelter before reuniting with her family, 

"I didn't know if I would ever get to see her again. I broke down in tears and hugged all over her and I was so happy to see her," Trey Bemies told KPNX.

Let this be a reminder: If you lose your dog, there's plenty you can do to find her. Don't give up hope—dogs are resilient animals.