“SHE isn’t just a dog, she is part of the family.”

Those are the words of distraught Maria Mould after thieves stole her dog as it played in the garden of her Southampton home.

In a direct appeal to the person who has Sasha, a Siberian husky, Maria said: “We just want her home. Sometimes I just sit down and cry. My children are distraught, they just want her back. Please, if you have her, just bring her back.”

Sasha was bought for Maria two years ago by her son Ben, who is currently serving with the Army in the Falklands.

The pedigree dog, for which Ben paid £600, is feared stolen after she vanished from the back garden of the family home in Byron Road, Thornhill.

Maria said: “She had only been in the garden for a couple of minutes and when I went back out, she was just gone. We searched and called for her but there was no sign.”

Bizarrely, the day after she vanished on Saturday morning, Maria received a phone call from a man who didn’t want to give his name or number but who said he had just bought the dog from another man and had found Maria’s contact details on the animal’s collar.

“It was a very strange call, I was just glad that someone had her but he didn’t say he was bringing her back or where he was and never called back.”

Maria, 47, said her youngest daughter, six-year-old Coral, and her two grandchildren, are particularly upset by Sasha’s disappearance.

“They just keep asking were Sasha is and I can’t tell them,” she added.

Maria, a mature childcare student, said Sasha will not eat if given the wrong food.

Maria, who has alerted local kennels, vets and rescue charities, added: “Sasha is part of the family and would lick you to death. We just want her back.”

Police are now investigating the theft of Sasha, who was described as thin, with a grey, white and brown coat and was in season. She also has a noticeable mark on her right eye and wore a red and white fabric collar and a gold barrel tag.