September 6, 2015 3:32 PM EDT

David Sowers and Laura Gillice refused to leave Yellowstone without their beloved dog, Jade.

Sowers told PEOPLE that he had a singular focus and never thought about giving up on Jade. “I’ve got to find her, she’s my dog,” he recalled thinking. “No one else is going to put in the effort that I will.”

After 42 days, their efforts were rewarded: Jade, a 17-month-old Australian shepherd, was found safe on Friday near the very place she had originally been reported missing.

It all began on July 23, when Gillice and Sowers were in a car accident. In the ensuing chaos, Jade, who had a history of skittishness around strangers, bolted off when officials tried to retrieve her.

Gillice, Sowers, and their children took to looking tirelessly for the dog, even as they themselves recovered from injuries. The dog owners were close to giving up, but were buoyed by reports of sightings. Gillice and Sowers became known among park employees, and one created a Facebook page, Bring Jade Home, to publicize the search efforts.

On Friday, as Gillice was walking another dog, Laila, near a gas station, she spotted a familiar black head. It was Jade, “bounding at me, kissing me and everything,” Gillice said.

Jade, though “skin and bones,” is healthy and happy. “She’s one tough little girl,” Gillice said.


Write to Tanya Basu at

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