5 Incredible Canine Journeys

Brave, bold, daring and loyal, man’s best friend is the perfect protagonist in a tale of adventure. (Though Spot’s propensity for sleeping on the sofa would indicate otherwise.) From Homeward Bound to The Littlest Hobo, dogs in an epic search for home continue to capture our hearts and imagination. Here are five fantastic real-life canine journeys.

5 Incredible Canine Journeys

1. “Silverton” Bobbie

Your six month-old puppy jumps out of the car and is never to be seen again-it’s every pet lover’s nightmare scenario. Throw in the fact you’re on vacation hundreds of miles away from home, and you might have some idea of how bad things got for Elizabeth and Frank Brazier in the summer of 1923 when their mutt bolted. But Bobbie, the Braziers’ Scotch Collie mix, was no ordinary canine. Six months later, the wayward adventurer, now a mature one year-old, appeared at the Braziers’ doorstep. Thin, and more than a little worse for wear, the Collie had travelled nearly 3,000 miles on his own, making the incredible trek from Wolcott, Indiana to the Brazier home in Silverton, Oregon. The Collie’s story spread far and wide, inspiring two books, a memorial in his honour, and an entry in Ripley’s Believe it or Not.

2. Baltic, the Polish Pooch

Baltic, a German shepherd mix managed to survive at least two days stranded on an ice floe in the middle of the Baltic Sea. All told, it’s believed he floated-tumbling in and out of the frigid waters-for nearly 75 miles. Many people attempted to save the pooch with no luck. And then a Polish research vessel came upon the terrified dog. The crew pulled a wet, hungry Baltic from the water on January 25, 2010 (watch the video here). How Baltic got in such a pickle remains a mystery, as does his real name-the lucky dog was christened “Baltic” by his rescuers. The good news: he’s safe and sound and has a new home as the vessel’s resident tail-wagger.

3. Sophie Tucker, the Aussie Cattle Dog

In 2009, an Aussie cattle dog called Sophie Tucker was swept off her family’s boat and into the choppy waters off the Mackay Coast in north Queensland. While the Griffith family was horrified by the seeming loss of their beloved pet, the unsinkable Sophie began swimming for her life. She swam five nautical miles inside the treacherous Great Barrier Reef before reaching St. Bees Island. Once on land, the formerly domestic pal went all-out native: surviving by hunting baby goats and making a name for herself with the island’s locals. In fact, it her notoriety that resulted in her being eventually reunited with her owners. Stories of the “wild” dog of St. Bees Island eventually got back to the Griffiths, and hoping it might be Sophie they contacted the island’s rangers. That hopeful query paid off. After five months on her own, Sophie was finally reunited with her owners after the rangers picked her up.

4. Nubs, the Scrappy Iraqi Mutt

Major Brian Dennis first encountered “Nubs”, the head of a fierce dog pack, while the US marine was part of a group patrolling the Iraq-Syrian border. Touched by the four-legged imp’s desire for a tummy rub, the soldier shared his dinner with the dog, whose ears had been cruelly cut off (hence the nickname “Nubs.”) For Nubs, it was an unforgettable meal, and over the next four months he was a frequent visitor. When the kindly Major and his squad left the camp for a new patrol, he thought he’d never see Nubs again. How wrong he was. Determined to follow Dennis, Nubs abandoned the safety of his pack and headed out on his own, braving the heat, rocks, winds and other dogs, to find his friend. The dog travelled over 75 miles of harsh desert to find his dinner partner. But his journey was not in vain. Dennis raised more than $5,000 to have his furry friend shipped to his home in the US (it was a covert mission, as the army doesn’t permit adoption of foreign strays). After his tour was over, Dennis joined Nubs in his new home of San Diego. 

5. Hachiko, the Loyal Akita

Not all canine journeys are those of adventure, some are acts of abiding love. So it was for Hachiko, Japan’s “most faithful dog”. Every morning Hachiko the Akita would walk with his master, a Japanese professor, to the nearby railway station where he caught a commuter train. Every evening the professor would find Hachiko waiting for him, and the pair would walk home together. One night the professor didn’t come home-he’d suffered a fatal heart attack. But Hachiko waited for him nonetheless, and continued to make the daily journey for nine years. After Hachiko’s passing, a monument was erected outside the Shibuya railroad station in Tokyo where the Akita made his decade-long pilgrimage.