Confused dog barks at the strange man in his garden… before he realises it’s actually his owner who’s lost 51lb after five weeks in hospital

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A man’s best friend may be his dog – but after this pooch’s owner had a prolonged stay in hospital, it took a while to sniff him out, even though he was only metres away.

The reason for Willie the dog’s confusion? His master had lost so much weight that he didn’t recognise him.

Shane Godfrey, from Sanford, North Carolina, was hospitalised for five weeks due to complications resulting from flu, and nearly lost his life.

Mr Godfrey, of Sanford, North Carolina, had been hospitalised for five weeks due to complications resulting from flu

During that time, he lost more thanĀ  50lb – and when he arrived home, his canine buddy started to bound across the lawn to greet him, as seen in this heartwarming video footage.

But suddenly unsure of who the thinner man was, Willie began to bark as he cautiously approached the ‘stranger’.

Once within smelling distance, however, the pooch realised who it was, danced around in circles and went into extreme tail-wag/owner-lick mode.

‘At first he was unsure and barked at me but once he got close enough to smell me, he recognised me immediately and totally went wild with excitement,’ Godfrey told Fox 31 Denver.

Godfrey, who has had Willie for around a year, after he turned up on his front porch, said: ‘It still makes me tear up when I see the video.

‘He won’t leave my side now that I’ve gotten back home.’