A WOMAN whose beloved pet dog disappeared during a family outing has expressed her joy at being reunited with the animal.

Christine Kipling, from Bishop Auckland, was walking her Staffordshire Bull Terrier Cross, Tess, through the grounds of Auckland Castle, on Tuesday, November 19, when the dog went missing.

A frantic four-day search ensued, with Ms Kipling and dozens of volunteers scouring the Bishop Auckland area to find Tess, who had joined the family as a foster dog from Stray Aid, in Coxhoe, but became a permanent pet when they fell in love with her.

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Ms Kipling, her partner Andy Alton, and her daughter, Holly, ten, were overjoyed to receive a phone call on Saturday afternoon saying Tess had turned up in some stables near Coronation, on the outskirts of the town.

She said Tess has a particularly strong bond with one of her other four dogs, Ted, and the pair were overjoyed to be reunited.

“Tess was shivering, thin and covered in thorns, but went mental when she saw Ted.

“I was so pleased to have her home. No-one will ever know how good it felt.”

As a gesture of gratitude, Stray Aid volunteer Ms Kipling is inviting anyone who helped during the search to meet at the Auckland Castle gates, by the Christmas tree, in Bishop Auckland, on Sunday, at 11am, for mince pies and alcohol-free mulled wine.

She added: “I just feel I need to say a big thank you to all those who contacted me about Tess when she was missing.

“I was overwhelmed with the support, even from complete strangers. Everyone was so determined to find her. It was amazing.”