You are not permitted to download, save or email this image. Visit image gallery to purchase the image.
Then last month 6-year-old Ben did come home - thin and scruffy after 51 weeks on the loose, and very happy to see his master.
''[He] took my legs clean out from under me'', George Sheild said.
The Blackmount shepherd said he lost the dog on the first day of the autumn muster on the station near Alexandra last year.
Ben had taken off after a female dog.
Mr Sheild went back to Earnscleugh Station several times to look for Ben, but after three months was convinced his dog had died.
But Ben was smarter than that.
Earnscleugh Station family member Amanda Campbell, who is a vet, said Ben was found by a hunter.
The huntaway was malnourished, but pleased to be back with people, she said.
He had apparently survived on sheep and cattle carcasses.
''Being smart contributed to his survival,'' Mr Sheild said.
He was still ''shocked and thrilled'' to have his dog back.
He understood Logan Clulee was hunting on Doc land above the station when he came across the ''pretty wary'' dog.
Managing to catch him after about 30 minutes, he brought him down to Thomas Ballantine, the station's head shepherd, who sent Mr Sheild a photo.
''I knew it was him straight away.''
Mr Ballantine said it was the first time he had heard of a dog surviving above the station.
''It is pretty unusual and he looked pretty scruffy.''
He thought Ben would have sheltered under rocks or tussocks.
The huntaway was back competing with his boss at the North Otago Centre dog trial championships on the station last week, although they did not place.
''It is unreal that he is back. He was still the same dog as when I lost him and did not go feral.'' -