Belfast dog owners feared the worst after German Shepherd pup went missing for over a week

  • WATCH: UTV takes Nova on her first walk after going missing for nine days.

Two Belfast dog owners say they feared the worst after their pup Nova went missing for nine days.

Nova disappeared while out for a walk with a friend's dog in Tollymore Forest Park just after Christmas.

"She was just following her wee friend and she just lost track and got lost," owner Samuel told UTV.

Despite hours of searching, owners Samuel Vaughan and Georgia Cope couldn't find their eight-month-old pup.

"A couple of days later you slowly give up."

But neither Samuel nor Georgia gave up fully. They started a huge social media campaign to find their beloved pet.

Their pleas to find Nova went out across numerous sites, being shared thousands of times.

Their calls were answered when a photographer in the area found Nova in an isolated part of the forest and in a cave.

He alerted rescuers who soon arrived to bring Nova to safety.

  • WATCH: Footage from the rescue operation:

"She was quite far into the cave and very hard angle wise to find her so I don't know how - just chance.

"I would say another two days and no one had seen her, she probably would have passed," Samuel said.

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know.