Cambridgeshire

Stray puppy lived on wild rabbits near Cambridge

Rio the dog Image copyright Kaye Wicks
Image caption Rio is getting used to the human touch after 15 months in the wild

A Spanish rescue dog who survived on wild rabbits for more than a year after escaping his new owner is "learning how to be a pet again", his carer says.

Pointer cross Rio is thought to have lived on wasteland near Cambridge.

He was found after 15 months on the run and is now being fostered with other long-term strays.

His carer said this "most loving dog remembers how to fetch a ball, which I didn't teach him", but needs an experienced new owner.

Rio, who had been brought to the UK after living as a stray in Spain, was 10 months old when he slipped out of his harness on a walk near Cambridge in January 2018.

He was spotted a number of times living rough near a landfill site between two busy roads to the north of the city.

Rio was eventually trapped in May this year.

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Media captionCambridge puppy captured after 15 months in the wild

His previous owner was unable to take him back as they had a new pet.

Rio spent several months at a sanctuary in Sussex but is now being cared for in Denbighshire, Wales, by Dr Kaye Wicks, a co-founder of animal charity Canine Capture UK, which led the search for Rio.

Image copyright Kaye Wicks
Image caption Rio remembers how to play with a tennis ball, his carer said

Some of the dog's new companions survived even longer on their own - one lived as a stray for four years before being captured.

All need specialist care as "when it comes to the fight or flight response, all these dogs will choose flight", Dr Wicks said.

Image copyright Canine Capture
Image caption Rio was fending for himself, living in the wild
Image copyright Canine Capture
Image caption It took several days for Rio to enter a cage where food was left for him

However, she said Rio "seems to remember his old life as a pet" and although he does not really like being on a leash, he and the others are "a work in progress".

"He's very responsive and loving and will rest his head in your hands and stay like that for ages," she said.

"Rio's with friends now - they have all been through the same thing and can read each other."

She hopes to be able to find "the right person for Rio - someone very experienced" in the near future.

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