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Xena the Maremma dog home at last after months lost in dense bush

Sophie Chirgwin, June 1, 2021 6:45PM The Courier-Mail

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Brad Price with Xena on May 30, 2021. Picture: Steve Pohlner media_cameraBrad Price with Xena on May 30, 2021. Picture: Steve Pohlner


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A beloved Maremma dog lost during a hailstorm more than six months ago has finally made it home.

Three-year-old Xena returned at 3am on May 21 after being lost in the Lockyer Valley’s dense bushland in Queensland six-and-a-half months ago.

There was one possible sighting on November 13, 2020 but since then, no clues to her whereabouts.

Judy Price, who raised Xena and her sister Hera as pups on her farm, had made the heartbreaking decision to rehome the two Maremmas last year due to severe drought and added stress of Covid-19.

“We needed to destock to take the pressure off, it was a forced situation that was very devastating for my husband Brad and me,” Ms Price said.

The couple found a new owner, Chris, who lived at Mount Forbes, Queensland and was familiar with the breed and gladly took on Xena and Hera.

But just two weeks after being rehomed, Xena escaped.

“The only report we had was someone saw a Maremma with a red halter sprinting down the road like something was chasing her, she was going flat tack* and that was the last time anyone saw her,” Ms Price said.

For six and a half months there were no reports on Xena’s location, until 3am May 21 when the new owner, Chris, woke up to Hera and his other Maremma Bonnie barking incessantly*.

“Chris and his partner got up to see what was going on, and Chris thought oh my god there’s three Maremmas,” Ms Price said.

“His partner was like ‘who is that one’ and he said, ‘it’s Xena, she’s still got her halter on’.”

Xena was skin and bones, but still had her collar and red harness, which she was tangled in. Her two front legs were in the same hole.

Xena was missing for six months, but found her way back home media_cameraXena (left), was missing for six months, but she found her way back home eventually. Picture: Steve Pohlner

Ms Price said Chris called only hours later once they were awake to tell them she had made her way home.

She couldn’t believe the timid dog she knew and loved could survive in dense bush for so long.

“It was just tears of joy, she is so beautiful. It’s incredible,” she said.

“Everything was against her, we just can’t believe she found her way back when she had only been living there for two weeks.”

Xena will be recovering from her ordeal* at the Price’s family home, who were eager to reconnect with her.

“She’s still very timid but as soon as she sees us and the other dogs she relaxes and must think ‘I’ve made it home, I’m not alone’,” she said.

media_cameraSisters Hera (left) and Xena before Xena went missing. Picture: supplied


Maremmas come from the regions of Abruzzo and Maremma in central Italy.

They are also called Maremmano-Abruzzese sheepdogs or Abruzzese sheepdogs.

They have been used for thousands of years to protect sheep from wolves. In Australia, they are often used to protect sheep and chooks from foxes.

A Maremma protected penguins from foxes in the 2015 film Oddball, which is based on a true story.


  • flat tack: flat out; as fast as possible
  • incessantly: without stopping or pausing
  • ordeal: long and difficult experience


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  1. What is this breed of dog called?
  2. Name two dogs in this story.
  3. Name three humans in this story.
  4. In which state does this story take place?
  5. Which animals mentioned does this dog breed protect?


1. If Dogs could Talk …
Write a recount of Xena’s time away, from the perspective of Xena, as if a dog could talk. If she could tell her owners where she’d been for the past six months, and why she ran away, what would she say? Give some examples of the adventures she’s been on and the hardships to explain why she is ‘skin and bones’ as her owner put it. How does Xena feel about being home with her sister Hera and new owners? Will she run away again?

Time: allow 45 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English, Critical and Creative thinking

2. Extension
Have you seen the 2015 film Oddball? In this film, a Maremma dog protects a penguin colony from foxes. How else do you think these clever dogs could be used to protect people and livestock? Would this breed of dog be suitable to have as a pet in a residential yard? Why/why not?

Time: allow 15 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English, Critical and Creative thinking

An adjective is a describing word. They are often found describing a noun. To start with look at the words before the nouns.

Search for all the adjectives you can find in the article

Did you find any repeat adjectives or are they all different?

Extension: Pick three of your favourite adjectives from the text and put them in your own sentences to show other ways to use them.

Have you used any in your writing?

Extra Reading in animals