A DOG left to die outside a derelict cottage in a remote mountainous region of Spain has been saved by a South Lakeland couple.

Chris and Bob Thornton, of Clawthorpe, near Burton-in-Kendal, have battled for a year to bring Noa back to their Cumbrian home.

They found the emaciated dog chained to a gate during a Christmas day trek to Mount Sagra with friends and family.

The dog was reduced to bones, left without food, water or shelter and had another dead animal chained next to her.

A stream could be seen but not reached by the starving dog, which Mrs Thornton said ‘must have been torture’.

“I don't think she would have survived another night if we hadn’t arrived,” said Mrs Thornton, who works as a health visitor.

“She was very emaciated and could barely stand.

“Worse still she had a huge raw wound around her neck where the chain had cut into it as she struggled to escape.”

They managed to release Noa, gave her water then returned the following day with Christmas turkey. But they were then faced with another dilemma of what to do with her as there were no nearby vets or rescue shelters.

“We drove off and it was dreadful leaving her,” said Mrs Thornton.

“We drove for quite a while down a number of tiny narrow lanes feeling quite upset.

“We went for a good walk and three hours later when we came back she was by the car. It was absolutely amazing she found us. There were so many turn-offs and ways she could have gone wrong, it's quite miraculous.”

They travelled 20 miles to a vet who treated Noa’s neck and gave her antibiotics.

From there Noa was taken to an animal rescue centre where she stayed for a year while the Thorntons applied for passports and vaccinations.

“She is quite stocky now, she has loads of strength,” said Mrs Thornton, who takes Noa on lots of walks in the Lakes and Dales.

“Everybody loves her, she is so popular. She loves long walks and she's spoilt rotten.”