It was a nail-biting rescue operation that had gripped the nation - the desperate effort to save Scooby the dog from a lonely death in a deep cave.
But just as he was facing his fifth night underground a team of rescuers broke through tons of rock to pull the mutt to safety and hand him back to his delighted owner, six-year-old Jack Newton.
'Oh Scooby, I'm so happy you're safe,' cried Jack as he cradled the eight-year-old Cavalier King Charles spaniel. And millions of Australians, who had been following the rescue effort on TV breathed a sigh of relief.
Saved: Scooby the King Charles spaniel was rescued after becoming trapped in a cave in Australia for five days, captured here on a miniature camera lens
Team effort: The rescue crews yesterday worked to free the deaf dog trapped in the cave in Sweetmans Creek, New South Wales
There had been fears that Scooby, who is deaf, would have had to spend another cold night underground but shortly before darkness fell the rescue team cleared away enough rock to be able to pull him free.
Scooby became stuck behind a rock face in the cave after chasing a small animal through the 1ft wide cave entrance and it was only by a stroke of luck that his young owner heard him whimpering after searching for him for two days.
'I could hear this faint whimpering but couldn't work out where it was coming from until I finally worked out it was coming from deep underground,' said his owner, six-year-old Jack Newton, who lives on a farm in the Hunter Valley, 130 miles north of Sydney.
Delighted: Scooby with his six-year-old owner Jack Newton
'I started calling out his name but I knew he wouldn't be able to hear me because he's deaf. But I think he knew we were trying to get him out.'
A state-of-the-art miniature camera lens on the end of a long lead captured pictures of Scooby in the cave, the images being played on a computer by rescuers who had set up a 'Rescue Scooby' base outside the tiny cave entrance.
Throughout yesterday emergency service personnel, including mine rescue experts, police, firemen and officials from the RSPCA, repeated their efforts of the previous day, gouging out tons of rock and boulders in the hope of creating a large enough hole for Scooby to scramble out through.
They had managed to push a small amount of food and water through to him as the hole widened.
The rescue effort was followed by millions of Australians as the operation was been played out on every news channel.
'It was a very difficult operation because there was always the threat that the rock walls of the cave would collapse,' said RSPCA inspector Slade Macklin.
'We've been using jackhammers and drills to shift very large boulders so every effort was made to get Scooby out.'
Rescuers said they had been hoping all along that Scooby would somehow be able to make his own way out, but they believed he was stuck hard and fast and only a great deal of help from his human friends would free him.
'It's great he's out, but he's in for a lot of trouble for a while,' said his young owner, Jack. 'My mum is very angry with him for running into the cave like that and causing all this bother.
'But I don't think she'll be angry for very long. It's just great to be able to hug him again. He's my friend and I love him very much.'
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/worldnews/article-1212508/Scooby-dog-rescued-days-trapped-cave.html#ixzz0QlF67WRK