Blind dog finds way back home

2012-12-26 10:35

Fairbanks -Blind and alone in Alaska winter temperatures that dipped to -40 degrees, a lost eight-year-old Fairbanks dog wasn't given much of a chance to make it home.

But after walking 16km to the edge of a local musher's dog yard, Abby the brown-and-white mixed breed was found and returned to her owners, a family that includes two boys and one girl under the age of 10.

The dog that the family raised from an animal-shelter puppy went missing during a snowstorm on December 13, and the family never expected to see her again, The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported.

"It's a miracle, there's no other words to describe it," said McKenzie Grapengeter, emotion choking her voice and tears coming to her eyes. "We never expected to have her to be returned safe and alive."

Musher and veterinarian Mark May said he came across the dog while running his team on December 19, but didn't stop to pick her up.

"It ran with us for about a mile on the way home before she fell off the pace, but I had a big dog team so I couldn't grab it," he said. "I said, 'boy I hope it finds somebody's house.'"

The next day, the dog turned up at May's house.

"Everybody just assumed it was some kind of scaredy-cat, but there it was in front of the door in our dog lot and it was blind," May said. "It was sitting there, all the way from 16km on the winter trail down into this neighbourhood, I guess by just sniffing, so I picked it up and brought it in."

To May's surprise, the dog had no signs of frostbite.

"No frozen ears, no frozen toes, she'll probably go back home and it'll (be) business as usual. She's no worse for wear but quite an adventure," he said.

The Grapengeter family hadn't tagged or put a microchip in the dog, but the community used social media to track down Abby's owners.

"We're so, so grateful for all (the community's) hard work," McKenzie Grapengeter said. "They've given us the most amazing Christmas gift we could ever ask for."

  • jacqui.daanevanrensburg - 2012-12-26 10:39

    This dog is a blessing.

  • johan.jacobs.5680 - 2012-12-26 10:44

    What a man,What a dog!

  • john.porter.92102 - 2012-12-26 10:47

    Mark May is a disgrace to all dog lovers and veterinarians; to leave what was clearly a lost dog alone out in the snow is disgusting. Hard to believe that such ruthless heartless people who are supposed animal carers exist. Thank goodness the dog made it despite his ruthlessness.

      Madoqua - 2012-12-26 12:13

      Do yourself a favor and read Winterdance by Gary Paulsen. It will give you a glimpse into mushers, dogs and the challenges and limitation they face. Stopping while running a dog sleigh team is not like pulling your car over. There are hundreds of possible reasons why this guy could not stop; there is a fair chance that the blind dog would have been ripped to shreds by the team to mention but one. Judging this guy from an armchair in balmy temperatures and the comfort of your house is not fair and possible just a bit ignorant.

      paul.holla.1 - 2012-12-26 13:18

      Madoqua is right....The Musher, Doc May,described his team as 'Large' and it was probably a training run with new/young dogs. To stop, tie down and hold those dogs while checking an unknown dog is to invite trouble. A bunch of dogs all hooked in the gang line and some unknown dog isn't a good mix. There were others houses nearby and by the time he got home and all his dogs back in the lot and secured, the wandering dog would be long gone. (assuming he has a snow machine to go check for it) I think the dog showed good judgement in heading to his house as he is someone who is out and about at -40, unlike me and most folks up here. He's a dam good Vet and has run the Yukon Quest (makes the Iditarod look like a guided tourist run) multilple times and from my personal experience cares about each animal he sees at his practice. Another Christmas miracle. Fairbanks got out of the -40 or lower for the low the 1st time in 9 days on X-mas Eve and actually got above zero today, Christmas day.

  • trevor.pietersen.3 - 2012-12-26 11:11

    A awesome story for a change.....BIG smiles.... "give the dog a BONE"

  • samuel.ngenga - 2012-12-26 11:21

    Would have been more amazing if it was a quadruple amputee which dragged/slid its way back home.

      trevor.pietersen.3 - 2012-12-26 12:16

      Samuel you ....... don't even want to call you a DOG..can see YOU people think NOTHING of "any" animal.

  • brigitte.bell.33 - 2012-12-26 11:33

    People don't give dogs enough credit for how devoted they are to their families...they will do anything to get home!

  • eve.hemming - 2012-12-26 11:36

    Good to have a good news story for a change !

  • adrienne.bateceruti - 2012-12-26 11:40

    Now isn't that a lovely cheerful, happy story at this time of it!

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