5 Lost Dogs Who Each Found Their Way Home

Some dogs have returned to their families years after they first went missing.

Dogs may be able to smell their own scent — or that of their family’s — to find their way back home. By: Erica Firment

As a dog lover, one of your worst fears is losing your pet. They’re your family, after all.

I once rescued an abandoned yellow Lab named Goldie. She ended up fitting right in with me, her new siblings, home and daily routine. One day, she beelined away from the house as we were just walking from the car to the garage. Hours missing turned into days, which turned into weeks. I searched and searched but couldn’t find her.

Nearly 1 month later, I heard a bark outside my front door. Spoiler alert: It was Goldie.

How Do Dogs Find Their Way Home?

As humans, we find it pretty remarkable when a pet manages to find their way back to us, even if we’re just down the road from them.

Covering even a 10-mile distance isn’t too challenging for a dog. They simply smell their own — or their family’s — scent and follow it back.

Dogs Who Traveled Great Distances

1. The Story of Moon

Dog Dashiell, from Ely, Nevada, took his Siberian Husky, Moon, on a camping trip. On the drive home, Doug stopped to take Moon out for a short walk. Just as he was attaching the lead, Moon sprinted off.

Doug scoured the entire area for the rest of the day but eventually had to return home. He made endless calls in search of Moon once home, but to no avail.

To his surprise, 1 week later, another Ely resident notified Doug that Moon had shown up on their doorstep. Amazingly, this adventurous dog had traveled 80 whole miles from the rest stop back to Ely. All in search of her human, Doug.

The relief that comes after finding a lost pet is like no other. By: Ronnie Meijer

2. Elsie’s Return

While Jo Harmes was away for a weekend, her son took their dog, Elsie, with him to visit a neighbor who lived 2 miles away. The little Norfolk terrier, Elsie, managed to slip through the neighbor’s back gate and disappeared.

After much searching, Jo resorted to consulting with several pet experts on the best way to find her dog. Their advice to Jo was to spread her scent around the neighborhood, providing Elsie with a path home. The kicker? Jo was to spray her own urine around the block for Elsie to smell.

Of course, as most loving human companions would, Jo went to work. About a week later, Elsie showed up at the front door, much to the relief of Jo (and her neighbors, too, no doubt).

3. Gonker’s Journey

After a series of tragic life events, Marshall Fielding needed a bit of pup companionship.

Enter Gonker, the adopted Golden Retriever.

Marshall and his dog were inseparable. But one day, Gonker split up with his human while the 2 were out hiking the Appalachian Trail. A desperate search ensued, as Gonker was not only missing, but he also had Addison’s disease, which required biweekly injections to keep him alive.

Exactly 15 days later, after fruitless searching, Marshall received a call at home from a police officer who had come across Gonker an entire 111 miles away from where he was last seen. Marshall rushed to his dog, with smiles and tail wags all around.

4. Reckless’s Reunion

When Hurricane Sandy wiped out the Northeastern coast, countless houses were lost. Not only that, but a depressing number of pets were separated from their families.

Reckless is a true story of reunion.

Reckless, the pit bull mix, belonged to a New Jersey family whose home was damaged during the storm. Amid the chaos, the dog managed to escape from the backyard.

The James family searched the area for months. Calls to shelters returned nothing. Eventually, they lost hope and decided to bring another adopted dog into the family.

As the James’ walked into the county’s SPCA, the first cage they came upon revealed their long-lost family member. Reckless was right there, just a few pounds heavier, waiting for them.

Watch these joyful reunions with formerly lost pooches: 

5. Molly’s Home

Joel and Carolyn McDonald were a happy family with their beloved dog, Molly.

But then Molly went missing. The McDonalds searched for days, weeks and even months. Eventually, though, they accepted the fact their dog was gone.

After 4 whole years, Molly still held a soft spot in the McDonalds’ hearts, so much so that when Joel opened his front door one morning to find a dog waiting outside, he instantly knew it was her. Sure enough, after a hurried trip to the Animal Care Center, a scanned microchip made it official.

Molly was home.

Kristen Youngs

View posts by Kristen Youngs
Kristen Youngs is a freelance writer and travel junkie. When she's not out exploring other countries, she spends most of her time teaching others how to work remotely while her pit bull, Annabelle, lounges alongside. She's also an advocate for dogs like hers and aims to spread awareness everywhere she goes.

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