When Boulder police Officer Trudy Hunter's 7-year-old Shiba Inu dog Mocha was lost in the wilderness outside of Granby almost 100 miles from her home in October, Hunter kept hoping her pet had defied the odds and survived, even as weeks went by.

"I never gave up hope and I still had her bowls down," Hunter said. "They're incredible animals and amazing things happen."

Sure enough, on Sunday Hunter got a call from a man who lived in Tabernash about 10 miles down the road from Granby, saying Mocha -- starving and scared, but alive -- had shown up on his porch in what Hunter could only describe as a miracle.

"I have my little girl back and it's a true godsend," Hunter said.

Mocha's incredible journey started Oct. 19, when Hunter -- a 20-year veteran of the Boulder Police Department -- took her two dogs, Mocha and Chloe, from her house in Loveland to visit her parents in Granby, northwest across the Continental Divide.

Hunter said the two dogs somehow escaped from their pens in the back yard. And, while they were able to find Chloe, Mocha was nowhere to be seen. Hunter kept searching and calling around, but to no avail.

"We spent the next three days looking for her on foot and driving around telling everyone we saw that we had lost her," Hunter said. "People were nice but nobody had seen her. I had to come home without my dog."

Every day, Hunter would call animal control and local shelters in the hope Mocha would turn up, but as days and then weeks went by, there was still no sign of her.

"I thought about her every day and cried my eyes out," Hunter said. "To think about her being in the cold was unbearable for me, because they're my babies. They sleep on my bed, their toys are all over. It was incredibly hard thinking she was out there by herself."

Then, out of the blue, Trudy got a voicemail Sunday -- 44 days after Mocha went missing -- from a man named David Cornwell, who lived in Tabernash about 10 miles southeast of Granby.

"I have your dog sitting on my porch," the message said.

Cornwell said his wife first spotted Mocha on Dec. 1, looking for something to eat in their backyard.

"She sort of found us," he said.

Noticing Mocha was very skinny, the Cornwells put out a bowl of food for Mocha but after she ate she ran back into the woods. So they put out a bowl of food and water in the hopes she would come back the next day.

Sure enough, Mocha returned the next day -- but Cornwell was ready with a leash. After seeing Hunter's name on Mocha's collar, the Cornwells called her number and Hunter took off for Tabernash.

"I cried all the way up there, pretty much," Hunter said.

When she pulled up to the Cornwells' house and opened the door, Hunter saw Mocha curled up in a ball and called out her name. She said Mocha's head instantly popped up and, after 44 days, the two were finally reunited.

"She came wobbling towards me and I just broke down," Hunter said. "I just grabbed her and picked her up and cried and cried." Hunter said even Chloe was there to be part of the reunion.

Cornwell, himself a dog owner, said watching Mocha returned to Hunter was "the best thing in the world."

"I have to say, it was like Christmas at our house," he said. "It was a great thing to see her back with someone who cared for her."

Cornwell said Mocha was lucky that they had a relatively mild winter, but he was still amazed she lasted in the wilderness for that long.

"It's amazing she was able to find a way to survive," he said. "If I was stranded out there with no tools, I don't know how long I would last."

Mocha had an abscessed tooth and lost about half her weight when she was taken in to the veterinarian, but she is now back home with Hunter and on the road to recovery.

"She's doing great and I'm still in shock," she said. "I'm just amazed I got her back."

For Hunter, who raised Mocha from the time she was a puppy, having her home when it seemed like she may never see her again is a holiday gift she'll never forget.

"It's the best Christmas present I've ever had," she said. "It's a Christmas miracle for sure, that's all I can say.

Contact Camera Staff Writer Mitchell Byars at 303-473-1329 or byarsm@dailycamera.com.