When their new dog ran off at the start of a walk, the Campbell family hoped catching him would be a quick and easy enough task.
Seven months on, the hunt for their runaway pet has become a quest of epic proportions involving everything from remote wildlife cameras to traps baited with sardines and old T-shirts.
The Campbells rehomed the German shepherd cross – calling him Drogo after a character in TV’s Game of Thrones – from a rescue centre in Bosnia last year after seeing an advertisement online.
German Shepherd rescue dog Drogo, pictured, bolted away from his owner in September and is still on the loose
The year-old dog went to live with them on the Isle of Arran, but escaped from their car in September.
Since then, they have gone to ever more elaborate lengths to get him home. After basic searching and calling failed, they tried to lure with him treats such as sirloin steak and butcher’s sausages.
They also tried enticing him with scent from a bitch in heat and even with unwashed clothes worn by his favourite member of staff from the rescue centre.
The Campbells then adopted Drogo’s sister from Bosnia, to see if a family bond would bring him home.
Meanwhile, Drogo has roamed the island, living wild, even through the harsh Scottish winter.
Although he has evaded capture, the Campbells know he is alive and well. As well as sightings from across Arran he has been seen on a network of wildlife cameras installed by the family.
Yesterday they pledged to keep trying to find their missing pet.
Paramedic Emma Campbell, 43, says that they have tried to tempt their pet back with sirloin steak and a bitch in heat but had no luck
Emma Campbell, 43, said: ‘He’s a local celebrity. Everyone knows about this dog.’
Paramedic Mrs Campbell and her husband Alan, 50, a roughcaster, have two children, Shaila, eight, and Gordon, five.
The family, from Lamlash on the east coast of the island, rehomed Drogo as a replacement for their beloved dog, Bubba, who had died.
When Drogo arrived, he was extremely nervous. Mr Campbell said: ‘He’s a lovely big dog. He never snarled, never bit anyone. But he was just so nervous.’
Mrs Campbell said: ‘I spoke to a specialist dog trainer, did research on how to settle him in, and stayed in touch with the rescuers in Bosnia. We got him toys, bowls, leads and a harness.’
Four weeks later, Drogo bolted on his first proper walk.
Mrs Campbell said: ‘He just panicked, knocked the lead out of my hand, and bolted. I did the wrong thing, and ran about trying to catch him. I now know you’re meant to crouch down and be quiet.
The dog is named after Game of Thrones character Khal Drogo, pictured, who is played by Jason Momoa
‘We searched for hours. My friend put a post on Facebook and within hours the community rushed to help.
‘We had 20 or 30 people out with dog treats looking for him in the first few weeks. But we were told he had gone into survival mode, wild mode, and he would just think everyone was a predator.’
Drogo has been spotted across the island, which is 20 miles long and ten miles wide.
Following expert advice, the family have moved traps and cameras to each new location.
Mrs Campbell added: ‘It’s been crazy. After one sighting my friend Janis and I, and her dog, were sitting in Brodick graveyard for nearly an hour. We were going, “What the hell are we doing? We’re sitting in a graveyard with a bag of hot dogs”.’
In September, missing dogs charity Harvey’s Army lent the family a cage trap. Baited with sardines, it was also fitted with cameras.
In October, Julia Bate-Poxon, who runs the Bosnian shelter, sent a parcel.
Mrs Campbell said: ‘Julia wore a couple of T-shirts constantly for three or four days. She sent them over with the scent on them.
‘We put them in the traps, but a dog behaviourist said to also tie them in high places so the scent went further. By this time, Harvey’s Army had fundraised for six extra cameras.
‘Every time there was a sighting we went out and set them up. It took hours. We did it constantly for months.’
In December, the family even rehomed Goldie, Drogo’s sister, hoping that would lure their pet back.
They know that Drogo has settled in the south of the island but now face a race against time – before lambing season begins in earnest.