WHEN 40 bearded collies and their owners head off in unison in search of a lost canine friend it sounds more like a plot for a new animated family film.

However, this particular tale of lost and hound was a reality in Dorset earlier this week - and it all centred on a lost dog called Arran.

This is a tale that certainly has a happy ending as the six-year-old pooch was found after an army of fellow bearded collies answered a call of duty to help find one of their own.

The tight-knit community of ‘beardie’ owners dropped what they were doing and travelled from miles around to join a major search.

Over 40 bearded collies and their owners took part in the search after Arran’s breeder Madeleine Fear put out a desperate appeal for help on social media.

The highly co-ordinated search, which lasted two days and two nights, covered several square miles of woods using infrared cameras and drones. Some braved freezing temperatures and slept out in their cars.

One bearded collie owner and their pet even made the 160-mile round trip from Guildford to search for Arran, who has been accepted for this year’s Crufts.

The distinctive shaggy dogs barked constantly in the hope Arran would respond to the familiar sound. Their owners also handed out more than 200 missing posters to the people of Verwood.

Then on Tuesday afternoon, more than 50 hours after Arran went missing when he bolted during a walk, he was discovered in the back garden of a home in Verwood.

The homeowner had seen one of the missing posters and called Madeleine to alert her he had located him.

Dog breeder Madeleine, 43, from Bransgore gave Aaran a huge hug after being reunited with him. She paid tribute to all the dog owners and their pets for answering her appeal for help.

She said: “The people of Verwood and the bearded collie owners who travelled down here to help have been amazing.

“We are a very close community as only about 200 bearded collies were born last year.

“The bearded collies were barking during the search and trying to alert one of their own.

“There were over 100 people looking for Arran, even late at night in the woods. One man had an infrared camera, another had a drone.

“Even though it was minus 6C one night we slept in our cars because we were so desperate to find him.

“Without the sheer volume of people searching for Arran he would not have been found.

“I was so worried because he went missing near a busy road but all the motorists slowed down when they saw our signs about a missing dog.

“The homeowner who spotted Arran in his back garden had heard about him and called me.

“I think with all the bearded collies walking around almost everyone in Verwood knew we were looking for Arran, which was really important as it raised awareness of the search.

“I’m ecstatic that he’s been found. I just want to say a huge thank you to everyone.”

Fellow bearded collie breeder Mary Busby, 60, a biomedical scientist, made an 80-mile round trip from Fareham to take part in the search.

She said: “The bearded collie breeders community is very close so whenever something awful happens we all band together.

“I would like to think they would do the same thing if something ever happened to my dog.”

“It’s just fabulous that Arran has been found and reunited with Madeleine. It was a wonderful moment.”