GOOD BOY: How social media healed hearts and found Hamish
HAMISH is a seven-month labradoodle with fluffy white hair, big round eyes and an almost permanent smile.
Since being picked up from his litter at Rockhampton, he's been a permanent fixture by the side of Yamba's Jan Bramwell.
No matter where she or the other members of her family go, whether it's with daughter Morgan Bramwell-Baker to her cafe, or with husband Steve to check the chooks and veggie patch, Hamish is never more than a step behind.
That is until one early morning in late November he disappeared from their Sullivans Road home.
And after frantic searching, Ms Bramwell turned to the community for help to find her beloved pet.
With Morgan posting on social media for her, she left a series of post that didn't just plead for help, but inspired a whole community to find her dog, but help heal her heavy heart.
The day Hamish disappeared was just like any other. He woke up Ms Bramwell around 4.30am, and she and Morgan started baking goods for Morgan's Yum Yum cafe at Angourie.
Ms Bramwell's husband Steve woke around 7am and began his usual chores of checking the vegetable patches and chickens.
When he returned, and Morgan left to get ready for work, Ms Bramwell asked Steve where Hamish was.
"He walked in and said he thought that he was up here," Ms Bramwell said.
"And I raced out and started calling out. Hamish doesn't come to a whistle; he comes to a 'Woo-wee' sound.
"But he didn't come back, and it's so not him. He always races back in, and so with that we checked down the front where he never goes by himself."
With no sign of Hamish, Ms Bramwell said she started panicking, checking surrounding bush, roads, estates and even local school.
But there was no sign. Hamish was gone.
"He just vanished, and no one had seen him," Ms Bramwell said.
After more searching, Ms Bramwell decided to turn to social media for help.
But these posts were not your typical Buy/Swap/Sell message, though Morgan posted to every group she could find.
Instead, Ms Bramwell posted her memories of her beloved dog, stories that reminded her of what he did and what he meant to the family.
"Don't want to bore you with "he's missing" every day. Hamish is such a positive little fellow, and we need to honour that plus knowing and having so many caring and concerned people helping us to find our little man … it's therapy for us," a post read.
Day by day, more about Hamish was revealed, and with it, a captive audience of Facebook users rode every emotion, and in turn shared their own stories of lost-and-found, each one keeping the hope with Ms Bramwell alive.
"People kindness was amazing and they kept sharing it, and I just couldn't keep up," Ms Bramwell said.
"People shared stories of pets that had been found after an extraordinary amount of time, months. I couldn't believe it.
"And it just kept me thinking that it wasn't a day to go down the Swanee, it just kept my hope."
The best part about this Facebook story, though, is that it has a happy ending.
Last Saturday, after nine days of continuous searching, a car came up their driveway.
Fresh from investigating another dog-sighting at Pippi Beach in their nighties, Ms Bramwell's husband went to see what it was.
"I couldn't go out. I was frightened I'd go out, and it wouldn't be him again," she said.
"But then I heard Steve say 'oh my god it's him.
"And I ran out and there he was … and he was so excited to see us he was crying and jumping up.
"I rang Morgan and everyone there at the shop was in tears."
And while the news of his return was only a short message on Facebook, the reading audience erupted in statements of joy and relief that he was found; sitting in the middle of the road no more than a kilometre away.
After nine days on the run, Hamish was in pretty good condition. Vet Karen Teasdale from Angourie Road Vet Surgery, who had been on the case from day one came in on her day off to check him over.
"He wasn't hydrated, and wasn't traumatised, and everyone has said that they think someone has had him, and I don't know … social media pressure not to keep him.
"I don't know, but whatever happened I'm so grateful, and there's no grudges."
And while on Hamish will know what happened in the past few days, he's safe at home, smiling at everyone who comes to see him, and following his family around.
"There's something about him. He loves people, but he senses when to be boisterous and when to be calm, and he's great around the grandkids," Ms Bramwell said.
"We were so desperate, and we wanted to show people how much he meant to us, and they gave us so much hope in return.
"He just means the world to us."