For many people pets become treasured members of the family, so when they are lost it can be extremely stressful as tragic endings are common. Often, after searching high and low, placing fliers in public places and checking shelters families are forced to give up hope of ever seeing their furry, feathered or scaled friends again and imagine the worst has happened to them out in the world on their own. However, in some cases, the will of the lost animal to return to its family is too strong to give up, and against all odds, they find their way home no matter what it takes. Call it luck, determination, the power of love or a mix of all three; here are 15 inspiring examples of happy reunions of lost pets and their families.
Tuff the Yellow Lab
Tuff was a pretty amazing dog. He found his way home after being lost on the far side of St. John’s River. His owner, Chris Jackson, was a regular at the Crazy Horse Saloon, and was there drinking responsibly while he left Tuff chained up in the tray of his 1996 blue Ford pickup... responsibly. Apparently after being left outside for hours, someone got the bright idea of unchaining the dog either to steal it, or because it had been chained up for hours and looked like it needed a friend. Long story short, when Jackson came out of the tavern (at midnight), Tuff was gone.
Jackson and his girlfriend immediately put up flyers, imploring the community to help them fetch their lost pooch. Tuff was spotted several times by diligent neighbors, but never came close enough to be apprehended. Eventually, Tuff was found but three miles from his home, having traveled an amazing 18 miles towards his owners’ house and crossing a wide and turbulent river. Jackson and his girlfriend were skeptical that Tuff could have made the swim across St. John’s River, the currents of which are famously hard to navigate. The vet who treated Tuff, however, believes that if the current was just right, Tuff could have somehow navigated his way back home. That, or he crossed one of the many bridges spanning the river, genius.
Laser the Beagle
Parry LaPage, a resident of Transcona, a suburb of Winnipeg, adopted a three-year-old beagle and named him Laser, only to have their new pooch vanish a month later. The LaPages were vacationing at their cottage in Winnipeg Beach, situated 50 miles from their home, when Laser, scared by a fireworks display, bolted away from the family. Who would have thought that loud explosions and torrents of strange lights in the sky would scare a small dog?
Following the standard practice, the LaPages put up posters begging anyone who saw (or managed to corral) their little fellow to contact them immediately, and over the proceeding weeks received a number of calls from people who believed they had spotted Laser. The amazing thing was that each new call came from a citizen who lived closer and closer to the LaPages. It seemed that Laser was living up to his name and bee-lining his way home, straight as a…laser.
Laser was eventually captured near a schoolyard when it was discerned that he was not a parent of any of the school’s children and thus a probable pedophile. He had traveled 50 miles over a tough landscape, but was luckily no worse for wear. Laser was eventually reunited with the LaPages, who promised to just put on a puppet show the next time they went on vacation.
Giggle-Blizzard the Cat
Giggle-Blizzard; say that three times quickly. Without laughing. They say that cats have nine lives, but they only have four legs, and the ineffable Giggle-Blizzard managed to travel home two legs down over the course of what must have been an agonizing 11 days. The cat’s owner, Tracie Steger, put up posters all over her area and organized search parties to find her beloved cat, but to no avail. She heard stories of a car hitting and killing a cat in her area, and saw a vulture with a whisker protruding ominously from its beak. Neither of these victims turned out to be Giggle-Blizzard; he was way too much of a badass.
It turns out the feisty feline had had its back legs crushed by a car, but in what must have been an extreme example of ‘pfft’ he dragged his mangled body all the way home to his still-hopeful mom. It’s uncertain exactly how far Giggle-Blizzard traveled, but given the fact that it took him 11 days to return it’s likely it was quite the trek. Also bear in mind that this Milo had no Otis to help him along the way.
Moon the Siberian Husky
If there’s any breed of dog that would be able find its way home over rugged terrain and great distances, it would be the Siberian husky. The only other dog that would even come close is Muttley from the Hanna-Barbera cartoon Wacky Races, but he gets about in a racecar, making it a contentious issue. In saying that, there are many detractors of Moon's greatness who insists that the only way the dog could have found his way to his home in the town of Ely, Nevada would be to hitchhike. Their speculation stems from the fact that Moon traveled a staggering 77 miles to find her way home to his owner, Doug Dashiell. Dashiell had taken his three dogs on a trip and on the way back, at Railroad Valley, briefly let them out of his truck to stretch their legs and make pee-pee when Moon suddenly bolted. After hours of fruitless (or dogless) searching, Dashiell was sure he would never see Moon again.
Dashiell was wrong. Amazingly, Moon managed to travel the distance back to Ely. The dog crossed desert, the White River, and the Ward Mountain ranges. Dashiell postulates that she probably survived for the week she was missing by feasting on rabbits, although he also mentioned that she absolutely stank of skunk when she finally arrived home.
Kuzya the Cat/Wondercat
It’s hard not to feel bad for the preceding animals when you realize how badly Kuzya (henceforth Kuzya the Destroyer) has trounced them all. Kuzya ran away from his owners, the Efremovs, when they took him with them on vacation from their native Olenyok to Yakitsk in eastern Russia. In Soviet Russia, cat loses you! They searched for the cat for weeks, but eventually were forced to return home without little Kuzya the Destroyer in tow.
It took the Destroyer an entire three months to find his way home to his family. If that sounds like a long time, consider this: Kuzya the Destroyer traveled 1,300 miles across Siberia to finally reach his family, crossing woods, rivers, and lakes. When he finally arrived home, his only problems were a few bite marks on his tail, a bit of weight loss, and the fact that his claws were worn down to nothing, probably from bitch-slapping too many predators. Kuzya is a poster-kitten for awesomeness. It would be unfair to discount the amazing efforts of the other pets on this list, but in regards to Kuzya the Destroyer, Keanu Reeves put it best in The Matrix when he simply said, "Whoa.”
Sage the German Shepherd
Sage the German Shepherd didn’t travel very far in comparison. She did, however, do it with a stomach full of shotgun shrapnel, which counts for something. After she went missing on his huge 40-acre property for over a week, her owner, David Lechan, didn’t hold out much hope that Sage would make it home. It was common for Sage to go wandering around on Lechan’s huge property in search of adventure, but she was unfailingly there waiting for him at his doorstep when he arrived home from work. On December 2nd, 2009, she wasn’t.
Sage, ever the punctual dog, did have a good excuse for her non-appearance: she was filled to the brim with shotgun pellets. It’s unclear why she was shot or by whom, but luckily, Sage made the trek home despite her grave injuries. Lechan has said that dogs like Sage go into something called “wolf mode,” a state where their body shuts down and allows them to muster all of their strength and avoid becoming exhausted, even without food. We’re unsure if “wolf mode” has any scientific basis as a canine phenomenon, but it sounds pretty damn awesome. It took seven days for Sage to recoup enough energy to make the journey home, bouncing back from the sort of trauma that would leave most humans crying while they bled out.
Skittles the Cat
Skittles the cat may not taste like a rainbow (though it’s hard to be sure), but he definitely traveled from one end of it to the other to be reunited with his family. His owners, the Sampsons, lost Skittles while they were vacationing in the Wisconsin Dells for Labor Day, 350 miles from their home in northern Minnesota. While they were packing up to leave, they realized they couldn’t find Skittles anywhere. After some frantic searching, they were forced to give up and return home.
Because of the distance between their home and the area where Skittles was lost, the Sampsons weren't optimistic about being reunited with their feline friend. There was one false alarm when a cat who strongly resembled Skittles appeared at their door, meowing to be let in. After an initial burst of joy, the Sampsons sadly realized that the cat was in fact “M&Ms”, a tabby belonging to the neighbors across street, who bore a striking external resemblance to Skittles despite being a completely different candy cat on the inside. It took the real Skittles 140 days to return home across a distance of 350 miles. When he arrived home, Skittles’ paws were raw and his ribs were actually protruding from his body. His owners declined to rename him “Skeletor” and nursed the cat into a full recovery.
Jarvis the Jack Russel
Jarvis the Jack Russel doesn’t just have a kickass name, he also knows how to use one of the most obscure forms of public transport: the ferry. His owner, Vivienne Oxley of Devon, England, lost Jarvis while she was out strolling the Cornish countryside with her granddaughter, presumably while simultaneously eating scones and cream and reading from a book of Winston Churchill quotes. Jarvis, realizing that he was a bit too awesome for the situation, ran off in the bushes for an adventure while his owner searched for him. After an entire two hours of searching, Vivienne gave up and returned home to Devon to curl up with some Earl Grey and watch reruns of Parkinson.
Jarvis, however, was not really lost. He was just hanging out for a while, partying with the woodland creatures. When he was done showing them how to kick it Terrier style, Jarvis decided it was time to return home, and settled on the ferry as the optimal form of transport back to Devon, being as it was both a scenic route and a prime opportunity to canoodle with any hot bitches who happened to be sharing the journey. Jarvis was caught without a ticket but managed to avoid paying the fine by using the classic ‘I am a dog’ excuse. Oxley was out running errands when she got a call from her husband, who was at home with the recently-returned Jarvis, informing her that she owned one of the pimpest dogs in England.
Yosuke the African Grey Parrot
Yosuke is the only non-quadruped on this list, but believe us – he has definitely earned his place. Unlike the stupid dogs and cats who walk for miles and miles through rugged terrain, reducing their padded feet to raw little meat-stumps, Yosuke took all the legwork (or wingwork) out of traveling home when he was found by police on a roof in the Japanese city of Nagareyama. Like any intelligent (jail)bird, he refused to perjure himself in front of the police and waited a few days at the station until he could liaise with his lawyer a vet. Upon his meeting with said vet, Yosuke simply stated ‘I am Mr. Yosuke Nakamura’ and proceeded to list his full address, proving that not only is he the cleverest animal on this list, but also that his owner is the cleverest human.
The police, now in the loop, cross-referenced the address Yosuke provided with his surname, and surprise, surprise, they found that the two matched up perfectly and immediately contacted the Nakamura family to inform them both that they were awesome and that he had found their parrot. The Nagareyama police tried to coerce Yosuke into joining the force as a suspect interviewer, but he casually declined, preferring to return to his quiet home life with the Nakamuras.
Max the Airedale Terrier
Max the Airedale Terrier managed to travel an amazing distance to return to his loving owner, crossing harsh terrain and managing to not get eaten by predators even though his face is shaped like a delicious meatball sub. Two-year-old Max was lost when his owner’s convertible was involved in an accident in Sterling, Connecticut. Bill Clark’s car was struck by another vehicle and in a moment of panic Max ran from the back seat of the car, through the trunk, and off into the woods. After returning home to Coventry, Rhode Island, Clark launched a search campaign for Max that spanned weeks, but to no avail. Every promising lead from a friend or stranger lead to a dead end.
Then, one Tuesday, Clark returned home to find Max sitting in his back yard, having found his way home from 45 miles away, crossing the state line while having to avoid any toll roads entirely due to his lack of change and the pockets in which to keep it. Upon examination from a vet Max was discovered to have no injuries whatsoever, and the only mark of his nearly month-long journey was weight loss. “He lost 11 pounds,” said owner, Bill Clark. “I lost seven.” Calm down, Bill – it’s not a competition.
Dusty Simon the Beagle
Dusty Simon sounds like the name of some sort of cross-genre folk-blues-country singer from the 50s, conjuring up images of the lone traveler, bedraggled-yet-wise, making his way through the countryside, his guitar slung over his back and the soles of his boots worn to the leather. Perhaps this is what the real Dusty Simon’s caretakers were thinking of when they named the pooch, who was often seen wandering casually around their subdivision -- a stray despite his pure breeding. Dusty Simon had become a great friend to the residents of the sub division, especially the children, and was a familiar sight and staple member of the community until he suddenly disappeared for several weeks.
The subdivision’s residents searched ceaselessly for Dusty, but failed to find the lost Beagle. After two weeks of searching, the neighborhood’s hopes were beginning to dim. One afternoon, Amanda Ramey, who was particularly close with Dusty, returned home to find the dog lying in her front yard. Unlike some of the luckier animals on this list, poor Dusty was a little worse for wear: his back legs were broken and his pelvis was severely fractured. Vets hypothesized that Dusty had been hit by a car and had dragged himself for several miles using only his front paws and balls of steel. The surgery bill to reinstate Dusty to his former glory was estimated at $2,000, and the community happily banded together to pay for his full recovery. Viva la Dusty!
Smokey the Cat
50 Cent ain’t got shit on Smokey the Cat. First of all, Fiddy has only been shot nine times. Smokey was shot 13 times. In succession. In the head. Also, Smokey didn’t go around bragging about it like a blatant attention-seeker, but he did survive. Smokey had gone missing from his home in Maryborough in Victoria, Australia, for over a week. His owners were distraught and did whatever they could to try and find their lost nine-year-old moggie. If they knew the horrors that were being inflicted upon their poor pet they would have been even more panic-stricken.
Some assholes had captured Smokey and shot him in the head 13 times with an air rifle just for the hell of it. After committing this atrocity, they did what any scum-sucking wastes of oxygen would do: they left Smokey for dead and went on their way, hopefully falling into a ditch somewhere and being violated by meth addicts. Despite his severe injuries, Smokey managed to travel all the way to his front doorstep. Whatever amazing part of a cat’s brain allows them to intuitively find their way home was fortunately left undamaged in Smokey, allowing him to make a successful recovery and live on as an example of how a cat can be endlessly more badass than a multi-platinum rapper.
Jack the Whippet-Terrier Cross
Jack the whippet-terrier cross is an odd-looking fellow, with a tiny head on a sizeable body, kind of like a muscle man with microcephaly. Jack was lost by his owners, David Cooper and his wife Liz, while they strolled through Dearne Valley Park, 15 miles away from their home in Penistone (yes, Penistone). Jack was spooked by other dogs and scurried into the woods. Cooper is quoted as saying: “he had been missing for a day-and-a-half and we'd all but given up.” Frankly, giving up after a day-and-a-half is a fairly shitty effort, but fortunately for the Coopers, Jack was a good deal more tenacious than his feeble owners.
Jack was struck by a truck five years before his trek, and had since walked with a limp and had trouble being around moving vehicles. In order to make his way home, Jack had to cross four major roads and a four-lane highway – facing his doggie fears head on – as well as miles of dangerous moorland. Jack’s address was not located anywhere on his collar, so there was no chance of his being returned through the kindness of strangers. Giving up after less than two days and not printing an address on the dog’s collar…did we mention that Liz Cooper is a vet? Oh boy.
Prince the Irish Terrier
The tale of Prince’s incredible voyage isn’t just the oldest story on this list, it’s also the most mysterious. James Brown (no relation to the late Godfather of Soul) was a private in the First North Staffordshire Regiment during the First World War. In 1914, he left his wife back in Staffordshire with their Terrier, Prince, and set off to France to fight on the front at the outbreak of war. On the 27th of September, Brown’s wife telegrammed him to tell him that their beloved Prince had gone missing.
Private Brown wasn’t too worried upon receiving the letter. Prince had already happily joined his master in the trenches, apparently ready to take on the Germans, though it’s tough to say how well an Irish terrier would do when pitted against a German shepherd. 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. Prince’s story is shrouded in mystery, mainly because of the lack of reliable reporting when it occurred. If the story is wholly true, it may stand as the most amazing dog journey in history.
Sophie Tucker the Cattle Dog
Sophie Tucker isn’t just another dog with a human name designed to confuse us; she is also another complete badass of the canine world. Sophie found her way home from the middle of the freakin’ ocean. Her owners, Jane and Dave Griffith, were boating off the coast of Queensland, Australia with her during stormy weather in late 2008. After navigating a particularly choppy patch of water and having to swing the boat around to avoid high seas, the Griffiths realized that Sophie had fallen overboard. They searched frantically for the dog, but after hours of searching the turbulent waters, they turned towards home.
Sophie, of course, was too busy being awesome to notice her owners looking for her. After falling off the boat (though it’s possible she jumped off to attack the stingray that killed Steve Irwin) she proceeded to brave shark-infested waters, swimming five nautical miles to St. Bees Island. Despite it’s misleading name, St. Bees Island is not entirely populated by bees, but rather by goats and… nope, that’s pretty much it. Drawing from the exploits of her favorite mythical creature, the Chupacabra, Sophie Tucker began preying on the island’s goat for nourishment. According to reports, she preferred the goats prepared in the traditional Moroccan style, with prunes and apricots. Eventually, Sophie Tucker was found by rangers who’s job it was to periodically patrol the island. They unsurprisingly thought she was a wild dog because of her goat-murdering ways, until she impressed them with her aforementioned knowledge of North African cuisine. Sophie Tucker was returned home safely and immediately demanded better quality dog food and a goat-shaped chew toy.