BLIND and alone in Alaska amid winter temperatures that dipped to minus 40C, a lost eight-year-old dog seemed unlikely to make it home.
But after walking more than ten miles to a musher’s dog yard in the city of Fairbanks, brown-and-white cross-breed Abby was found and returned to her owners, a family that includes two boys aged nine and ten and one girl aged six.
The dog, which the family got from an animal shelter as a puppy and previously lost her sight, went missing during a snowstorm on 13 December.
The family never expected to see her again.
“It’s a miracle. There’s no other words to describe it,” said the dog’s owner, McKenzie Grapengeter, emotion choking her voice and tears coming to her eyes. “We never expected her to be returned safe and alive.”
Musher and veterinarian Mark May said he came across the dog while running his team on 19 December, 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 Mr 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 14 miles on the winter trail down into this neighbourhood, I guess by just sniffing, so I picked it up and brought it in.”
To Mr 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 had not 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,” Ms Grapengeter said.
“They’ve given us the most amazing Christmas gift we could ever ask for.”