Leo is finally coming home.

The Associated Press

WILDERVILLE — Leo is finally coming home.

The border collie from Portland went missing in Southern Oregon last July, when his owners left him with friends while they went rafting on the Rogue River.

Jason McNichols, 30, and Marisa Davis, 29, posted missing-dog fliers in Galice and other communities. Though they figured it wouldn't take long for someone to spot the 50-pound dog, the couple didn't passively wait for a call.

Davis, a Beaverton school teacher, spent a chunk of her summer break hiking the area. And McNichols hired Longview, Wash., tracker Harry Oakes, whose corpse-sniffing dog had tipped off investigators to the buried remains of two girls in the yard of convicted killer Ward Weaver.

The search dog pointed out one of Leo's trails, McNichols said, suggesting the border collie had survived for at least a little while on his own.

But that was the last news for many months, until Nanette Martin phoned a couple weeks ago.

Martin, in an interview with The Oregonian newspaper, said she recently spotted one of the fliers on a trip through Galice. She recognized Leo as a stray that appeared now and then on her property 25 miles south in Wilderville.

"Everybody saw him but nobody could get close to him," Martin said of the dog that had become skittish around people.

McNichols and Davis headed to Wilderville last Friday to resume the search. More than once, they spotted Leo at a distance but he would flee. Finally, McNichols called Bugs Inc., a Grants Pass pest control company that uses cages to trap cougars. He and Davis had to return to Portland, but Martin helped workers set a trap for Leo.

Finally, on Wednesday night, Martin called McNichols and asked if he wanted to speak with Leo. The dog, tempted by a breast of chicken from Albertson's and other food, had walked into the cage.

Thursday morning, McNichols and Davis were reunited with Leo — shaggy, covered in ticks, but otherwise OK.

"Nine months later, and he's fine," McNichols said after taking the dog for a checkup. "All muscle. He only lost three pounds in the whole ordeal. We can't wait to get him home."