But during that fateful trip to the French Meadows Reservoir campground near Foresthill, California, Murphy ran away from the Brauns’ campsite. Though Nathan and Erin scoured the area and plastered Tahoe with “LOST DOG” flyers, Murphy was nowhere to be found.
As the months went by without Murphy, and against all odds to the contrary, Nathan and Erin never gave up hope that they would see their beloved dog again one day. They made sure to keep current bulletins posted at the campground, and also maintained a “Murphy Braun” Facebook page to spread the word about their missing furry family member.
Then, nearly two years later, the couple got the news they had been hoping for — a camper spotted a dog that looked just like their Murphy. Camper Janice Watkins and her family were camping roughly five miles from where Murphy was last seen when suddenly, a familiar face showed up at their campsite.
“We had heard the story, and there were bulletins posted, ‘missing since October of 2012,” Janice Watkins tells FOX40 Sacramento.
“The dog actually came over and met our dog,” Janice’s husband, Russ Watkins, says.
“She was very timid,” says Russ. “She had her tail tucked most of the time, until halfway through Saturday. Then she started wagging it. She was very sweet.”
Another person at French Meadows, Jason Smith, says he also saw Murphy at the Tahoe campground. He contacted the Brauns, who rushed over with a few personal items, hoping to lure Murphy with smells that would be familiar to her. They laid out Murphy’s special blanket, a dog bed, and a baseball cap, among other effects that Murphy would be likely to recognize.
“The very first night I laid it out I heard some movement,” Smith tells ABC News. “There was Murphy sleeping on the blanket. And right there I knew, that’s Murphy. That’s their dog. It was curled up with its head on the hat.”
One week later, the campground host called the Brauns, who’d been eagerly waiting and hoping for word of Murphy, to give them some amazing news — Murphy had been safely recovered after she’d been found sleeping on her blanket. It seems smelling her family’s scent brought the now-7-year-old Murphy back home.
“As you can imagine we are completely shocked and amazed with the miracle of her surviving this long,” the Brauns posted on Erin’s Facebook page.
Nathan and Erin rushed over to the Tahoe campground to reunite with their long lost Murphy. The happy reunion took place, very appropriately, on Father’s Day.
“It was very touching,” Smith says. “The whole family was crying. I was doing my best not to cry.”
Today, Murphy is doing well and is settling into her old routines at home with Nathan and Erin.
“She is on the road to recovery, very thin and frail but happy to be home with her family,” the Brauns write.