SHE was only doing what came naturally to her. But Lucy the Dachshund’s instincts nearly got the better of her when she disappeared during walk in the New Forest.

Instead of flushing out her intended quarry, the sausage dog got herself wedged eight feet down a badger sett.

She emerged with a whimper six days later after being unearthed by a mechanical digger in a delicate three-hour rescue operation.

Owners John and Janet West, of Burley, watched on in amazement.

“I just couldn’t believe my eyes,” said Janet, 60. “I saw this little nose pop out. She shook her head and crawled out of the hole. She squealed at us and her tail started wagging straight away.”

The five-year-old hound went missing when she ran off onto headland while the Wests were taking stroll with their dogs.

“I caught up with her mother who was sitting at the entrance to a freshly dug badger sett. She had a worried look on her face,” John said.

The couple grew increasingly concerned when Lucy failed to emerge after hours of shouting and hollering and alerted the fire service.

The fire service and Forestry Commission obtained special licences from Natural England to twice check the sett at Heavens Gate, Shoot Wood.

Animal rescue specialist Anton Phillips used listening equipment and a snake eye camera to examine the network of tunnels but could find no sign of Lucy.

On the fifth day of their daily visits to the sett Mr West, 58, detected a faint whimper using a listening probe made with a plastic funnel and pipe.

“At first I though I was imaging it, but then I realised it was for real,” he said.

The fire service were then able get permission to carefully dig her out of the badger sett the following morning.

Echo-locating equipment was used to pinpoint Lucy’s position and nearby Turf Croft Farm supplied a mini-digger to unearth her from a chamber eight feet down.

Lucy spent a day a sleeping off her ordeal and other than a bald head from her burrowing she was declared healthy by the vet.