There’s nothing more horrible than discovering your dog or cat is missing, and once a pet is lost, it’s hard to know whether they’ll ever return home. While pet owners can post flyers and go searching for them, it’s impossible to know where your fur babies have run off to.
Most of us have seen films about incredible journeys that beloved pets take, overcoming all odds to return to their homes and their families. Miraculously, it’s happened in real life, too. Many real pets have undertaken amazing journeys to find their owners, some of them traveling for years to get home.
If you’ve ever lost a dog or cat, you know how worrisome it can be. Will your furry friend return home on its own? Where has it gone? Is it facing danger? Will your pet go the distance to find home? These amazing animals did! Prepare to have your heartstrings tugged, and hug your dogs and cats as you read these extraordinary stories of pets traveling many miles to return home.
Cat Travels 200 Miles Over Two Months to Return Home
In early November of 2013, Holly, a 4-year-old tortoiseshell cat who’d always lived indoors, bolted from Bonnie and Jacob Richter’s camper during a fireworks display near the Daytona Speedway. The Richter’s had been routinely traveling with Holly over the previous year and were devastated to lose their cat in a virtual sea of over 3,000 campers and motorhomes. After days of searching, they were forced to return home to West Palm Beach, Florida, without their beloved kitty.
Fast forward to New Year’s Eve, 2014. Barb Mazzola, a 52-year-old university executive assistant, noticed a cat “barely standing” in her backyard in West Palm Beach, struggling even to meow. Mazzola and her family fed the cat, and hoped to keep her, but did the right thing and took her to the vet for a check-up. A microchip was found, indicating that it was the Richter’s missing Holly. Her paws and nails were torn and bloody, indicating a great deal of travel over pavement, and she had lost over 6.5 pounds. The treating vet felt that Holly traveled all that way – over 200 miles – herself, and that she certainly hadn’t stowed away on a car or with any people.
Irish Terrier Crossed the English Channel to Fight Alongside His Master in France
One of the oldest, and probably most well known, tales of brave dogs traveling many miles to reunite with their masters is one of an Irish Terrier named Prince. In 1914, Private James Brown from Staffordshire, England, was one of the first troops sent to France when war was declared against Germany. Even though Prince was at home with the rest of the family, he was a one-man kind of dog, and he suffered greatly missing his master. One day, he vanished from home. Private Brown’s wife was distraught and wrote a letter to her husband letting him know that Prince had gone missing, and she feared the worst.
However, by the time Private Brown received the letter, Prince had already turned up in France, ready to take on the Germans alongside with his master. Brown’s Regiment adopted Prince as a mascot, and he remained in France for the rest of the war, often bearing messages between soldiers in the field. Prince’s story is one of the most baffling examples of animal travel to this very day. In order to find his way to Brown, he would have had to cross the English Channel, a formidable body of water, the crossing of which experienced swimmers consider a great milestone. In regards to Princes’s story, the RSPCA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) is said to have investigated it thoroughly and “established its authenticity beyond doubt,” leaving it to stand as the most amazing dog journey in history.
Dog Finds Owner After Missing for Five Years
Myrna Carillo never forgot about her Shih Tzu, Prince, whom had been missing for five years. Since he was initially lost, Myrna moved four times, got married, and had two children.
If you move four times in five years, it’s hard enough for the mail to find you, let alone a dog, but that is exactly what Prince did. Carillo came home from work, and there he was, after five years, sitting on her front porch. Myrna immediately recognized the furry dog, and the dog recognized her. Carrillo lived at home and was not married when she lost Prince. “I thought I was seeing something. I just hope no one is playing a prank on me,” she said.
Persian Cat Traveled 1,000 Miles Through the Australian Outback to Get Home
In 1978, The Hicks family of Adelaide, Australia, dropped their pedigree Persian cat off with their parents, who lived over 1,000 miles away, to be cared for while they took a vacation overseas. Upon returning to retrieve their cat, they were told that he had escaped just two weeks after he had been there, and all efforts to find him had been futile. The family was heartbroken and stayed a month in order to search for him, but to no avail. They returned to Adelaide sans Howie, but couldn’t bring themselves to get another cat. It just wouldn’t have been the same.
A year had passed, when one afternoon they found a miserable looking longhaired cat, with a wounded paw, who was filthy and starved. When their daughter, Kirsten, came home from school and saw the cat, she stopped, then ran forward screaming out “Howie! Howie!”. The mother was shocked; could this straggly cat be their pedigree Persian? It was. Over 12 months and 1,000 miles, Howie forded rivers, crossed two tracts of hostile desert, and fought his way through the vast wilderness of the Australian Outback. He knew where his home was, and neither distance nor danger could keep him from it.
Jack Russell Terrier Rides a Ferry Across Plymouth Sound, Then Ran Two Miles Home
Jarvis the Jack Russell stunned his owners after getting lost on a day outing miles from home and finding his way back alone on a ferry. Owner Vivienne Oxley watched Jarvis run off into bushes as she visited a Cornish country estate with her two-year-old granddaughter. They searched for him for a few hours, but when it started to get late, decided they would have to return home to Devon without him.
Luckily, Mrs. Oxley got a call to say a dog like Jarvis had been spotted on the ferry they had taken across Plymouth Sound to reach Cornwall. Minutes later, her puzzled husband, Tony, called her to report that Jarvis had turned up at home, alone, apparently having trotted the two miles from the ferry at Cremyll to Devon. Jarvis had actually made it home before his owner and was there to greet her at the door.
Dog Survives for Four Months on an Island After Swimming Six Miles in Shark-Infested Waters
Survivalist Bear Grylls appears a chump in comparison to Sophie Tucker, a black and gray Australian Cattle Dog, who survived a six-mile swim through water teeming with sharks to the safety of a deserted island. She then survived there for four months by hunting wild goats for sustenance.
When Jan Griffith witnessed Sophie fall overboard from her family’s yacht during rough seas off the Queensland coastal town of Mackay, she feared her pet had drowned. But the determined dog swam towards remote St. Bees Island, which is inhabited by koalas, goats, and only a handful of people, over five miles from where she entered the water. Months went by, and when the bodies of several young goats were found, investigating wildlife rangers pegged the culprit as a stray cattle dog that no island inhabitants claimed. Word of a dog on the island reached the ears of Miss Griffith and her family, and though it seemed unbelievable, they decided to meet rangers when they disembarked on the mainland with the dog. “We called her name and she went crazy – whimpering and banging on the cage, so they let her out and she ran over to us and almost knocked us over with excitement,” Miss Griffiths said. The waters around the islands are infested with hammerhead and tiger sharks, but miraculously, Sophie had survived her swim and lived as a castaway until she was brought home, safe and sound.
Siberian Husky Traversed 77 Miles in Seven Days Through Desert, Mountains, and a River
Moon, a Siberian Husky, found her way home to Ely, Nevada, across miles of desert, over the White River, and Ward Mountain ranges. Her owner, Doug Dashiell, had taken his three dogs with him for a weekend trip. As he stopped to let the dogs stretch their legs in Railroad Valley, Moon got free of Dashiell’s hold and took off into the distance, probably on the trail of a squirrel or rabbit. Although he searched for hours, he turned up no sign of her.
Seven days later, a local living not far from Dashiell called him to report his dog had wandered up to his front door. Moon had made it home unscathed, except for the pungent stench of a skunk she had probably chased somewhere between Railroad Valley and Ely. Dashiell had all but given up hope that he would ever see Moon again and speculated she may have might have fed on rabbits during the seven days she was missing. To make it back home in one week, the loyal Moon traveled a distance of 11 miles each day through very rugged and challenging terrain. The purebred Siberian Husky lived up to her breed’s reputation of having the best endurance of all domestic dogs.
Sheltie Trekked 23 Miles Over 16 Days in Winter to Find Her Original Family
A Sheltie named Gigi trekked an amazing 16 days and 23 miles in the dead of winter to get back home to her original family. Owned by Bob and Marianne Anton, Gigi lived with two other male Shelties that she didn’t seem to get along with well. The Antons figured that she would have a better quality of life with a man who just lost his dog and could offer her a wonderful home where she could be a solo dog and not be aggravated by two others. So, they gave Gigi to him. But after just one week at her new home, she ran away. The Antons and Gigi’s adopter searched for her every day, braving snow, ravines, and chilling weather, knowing if they were battling the elements… so was Gigi.
Over the weeks, Gigi was spotted by over twenty people, but being a timid dog, she always managed to elude capture. Then, on January 2, 2014, Gigi walked into their garage. Her 16-day ordeal was over, and she had made it safely home after her long journey. Despite having lost some weight, she was in good health. Needless to say, her home was with the Antons, and that is where she’s stayed.
Parrot Tells Vet His Name and Address and Hitched a Ride Home
When Yosuke the parrot flew out of his cage and got lost, he did exactly what he had been taught: recite his name and address to a stranger willing to help. Although the police rescued Yosuke from a Tokyo rooftop, he must not have trusted the men in uniform, because he remained very “mum” to his details. Yosuke became a fountain of information, however, upon being transferred to the care of a veterinarian.
“I’m Mr. Yosuke Nakamura,” the bird said. The parrot also provided his full home address, down to the street number, and even entertained the hospital staff by singing songs. The Nakamura family told police they had been teaching the bird its name and address for two years so he would be able to find his way home, if they were ever separated.
Dog Braves the 2011 Tōhoku Earthquake and Tsunami to Find His Master
In Japan, dogs and cats outnumber children by six million. Pets are really treated as family there. This made the devastation of the 2011 tsunami all the more horrific as people lost track of their beloved pets in the disaster. These feelings of loss and worry of separation went both ways, however. The perfect illustration being evident in the dogged determination of Shane, an Akita belonging to a Mr. Kamata, a respected citizen in the community of Sendai, whose job it was to warn others of inclement weather and hazardous conditions. On this occasion, he rushed to do so, after letting his beloved Shane out into his yard. After alerting his neighborhood, Mr. Kamata attempted to return to his home and get Shane, but the tsunami was approaching too quickly, and he was cut off by torrents of water. He was forced to take shelter in a nearby school on higher ground and was sure he’d never see Shane again.
Back home, Shane fearlessly heaved himself into the surging rivers of salt water and debris pulverizing Sendai. Motivated to be with his guardian, Shane dog-paddled like a champ through torrid, fetid waters for six hours, eventually honing in on the school where Kamata sheltered. Although Shane had never been there before, and had no prior knowledge of the place, he made an entrance like a boss and was reunited with Mr. Kamata. Veterinarians surmised that he likely rode out much of the tsunami while clinging to a board, since he had a few deep cuts and slivers buried in his front legs. Nonetheless, he made a full recovery after traveling several miles through harrowing waters to be at his owner’s side.
Source: Global Animal Foundation
Dog Tracks Down Owner Two Miles Away in a Hospital
Zander, a white husky mix adopted from a shelter, became depressed after his owner, John Dolan, of Bay Shore, Long Island, New York, was admitted to Good Samaritan Hospital with skin ulcers in October of 2012. Finding the loneliness was, apparently, too much to bear, Zander snuck out of the house and took off on a two-mile journey to Dolan’s hospital in West Islip. The trek included crossing a busy highway, a stream, a nature preserve, and several well-trafficked roads. A nurse employed at the hospital found the dog and called the number on his collar; Dolan, lying in a hospital bed, picked up. Zander had been found sitting on the hospital grounds, right outside the window to Dolan’s room.
Experts agree research indicates dogs can act on their depression. “I think he missed me and he decided, ‘This is it, I’m going to get him,'” Dolan said.
Airedale Terrier Crosses State Lines to Find Home
In October of 2008, Max, a 2-year-old Airedale Terrier, was spooked when he and his owner, Bill Clark, were involved in a car accident, so he took off out of the back seat and into the woods in Sterling, Connecticut. He found his way back home to Conventry, Rhode Island, 45 miles away, by walking along highways and back roads. His journey took three weeks and three days. Clark searched for him the entire time, but one day came home to find Max just sitting in his back yard. He had lost 11 pounds, but other than that, he was no worse for the wear. “I couldn’t believe that he came home,“ Clark said. “All that way.”
Cat Travels 140 Days Home
Skittles’s owners, the Sampsons, lost track of him while they were vacationing in the Wisconsin Dells for Labor Day in 2002, 350 miles from their home in Northern Minnesota. Charmin Sampson said “He had seven to 10 days to get his act together, to come back in to where we were staying. He never showed up.” Begrudgingly, the Sampsons packed up and headed back home, figuring that they’d never see Skittles again.
On January 14, 2003, 140 days later, Charmin scolded her 16-year-old son, Jason, for bringing home another cat. It never occurred to her that it was Skittles returning from Southern Wisconsin. “The other cats, usually when you bring in a stray, they get to hissing and fighting because this is their territory. Nobody was doing that. They were all kind of looking at him from a distance, checking him out while he was eating. And he was famished.” When Jason arrived on the scene, he identified the mysterious cat as being Skittles, who had just strolled up to the front door… months after his disappearance in another state.
French Farm Cat Travels Nine Miles to an Unknown Town to Find Her Owner
Misele’s owner, 82-year-old Alfonse Mondry, became ill and had to be taken to a hospital in a town nine miles away, where the cat had never been in her life.The amazing feline decided to find her owner, whatever it took. She traveled the nine miles, through hazardous conditions like rock quarries, a forest, several busy highways, and cow pastures to find the hospital Mondry had been taken to. One afternoon, a nurse came in to check on her patient, only to find Misele had found her way into his room and was curled up on his lap. Once Alfonse told hospital staff how far of a distance his beloved cat had traveled to find him, through perilous conditions no less, no one had the heart to say that the cat had to go. She was allowed to stay there with her owner.
Gribouille Walked 600 Miles Home from West Germany to Central France
In 1987, Madeleine Martinet of Tannay, France, gave her male cat, Gribouille, to her neighbor, Jean-Paul Marquart, as she felt she was financially unable to care for him at the time. A month later, Marquart moved 600 miles away, to Reutlingen, West Germany. But Gribouille mustn’t have been keen on the idea and promptly headed out back towards France. Traveling through driving rain, bone-chilling snow, scorching sun, and over mountains, through forests, and across super highways, Gribouille arrived back on Martinet’s doorstep in August of 1989. He was bleeding, ragged, underweight, and nearly blind from eye infections, but alive. Martinet nursed him back to health and he lived out the rest of his days in the home that he loved.
Bobbie the Wonder Dog Traveled 2,551 Miles from Indiana to His Master’s Home in Oregon
In 1923, while on a family road trip in Indiana, Bobbie, a two-year old Scotch Collie and English Shepherd mix, was separated from his owners and lost. Although the family searched and searched for sweet Bobbie, they were unable to find him and had to start the trip back to their hometown of Silverton, Oregon. Six months later, a disheveled Bobbie was found waiting on the steps of the family home. His paws were worn bloody, he was emaciated and bone weary. He quite obviously walked the entire 2,551 miles back to his home through winter, crossing plains, mountains, desert, and likely fording rivers, swimming across lakes, and mucking through swamp at an average of about 14 miles each day. The Oregon Humane Society initially questioned the report, but further investigations proved the story, and Bobbie’s ordeal was substantiated as 100 percent truth.
His journey garnered him instant fame, and he was known across the nation. Bobbie (also referred to as Silverton Bobbie or Bobbie the Wonder Dog) starred in a silent movie about his adventure, The Call of the West. He was the protagonist of many books, and he is still celebrated for his loyalty every year in the city of Silverton with a children’s parade. A statue, murals, and memorials to Bobbie can be found throughout the town. He is one of the most famous and celebrated dogs in U.S. history.
Bucky Walked 500 Miles from Virginia to South Carolina to Find His Owner’s Home
In September of 2012, Bucky, a 3-year-old black Labrador, somehow traveled 500 miles from Virginia all the way home to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, to be reunited with his owner, Mark Wessells. That January, Wessells had to leave the dog with his father in Winchester, Virginia, because dogs were banned from the complex where Wessells lives in Myrtle Beach. No one informed Bucky, however, and the dog managed to travel all the way home to South Carolina, by himself.
After being found by a kind man named Brett Gallagher, a trip to the vet yielded a microchip revealing Bucky’s real name and his owner’s phone number. “The nurse came back and said, ‘Are you Buck?’ and he got so excited,” Gallagher explained. “It must have been the first time he heard his name since he left.” Wessells hurried to the animal hospital, where they were reunited.
Tony Hiked 250 Miles from Illinois to Michigan to Follow His Family
In 1945, the Doolen family moved from Aurora, Illinois, to East Lansing, Michigan, and decided it would be better off if their black Cocker Spaniel, Tony, stayed behind to live with friends. Tony, apparently, had other plans, and he promptly went missing. Five weeks later, Mr. Doolen caught the glimpse of a dirty, thin, black Cocker Spaniel approaching him as he walked down an East Lansing street on his way to work. The dog wagged it’s tail and barked. Mr. Doolen couldn’t believe his eyes, but on further inspection of his collar, he confirmed that it was his family’s dog, the tenacious Tony.
Despite having never been there before, Tony traversed the entire 250 miles from Aurora to East Lansing without error at a rate of just over seven miles per day. Tony was never left behind again.