Blind dog Abby finds her way home in depths of Alaskan winter
Tim Walker is The Independent’s Los Angeles correspondent, covering entertainment and other concerns from the West Coast of the US. He was previously a features writer and the editor of the paper’s diary column. His first novel, Completion, is being published in January 2014.
Thursday 27 December 2012
When their blind eight-year-old dog went missing from their remote Alaskan home in a heavy snowstorm, the Grapengeter family felt sure they'd never see her again. But after more than a week of searching in temperatures as low as minus 40C, Abby, a brown-and-white mixed-breed whom the Grapengeters rescued from an animal shelter as a puppy, turned up safe and sound at the home of a local vet.
Abby first disappeared from the family's five-acre property near Fairbanks on 13 December. Given she'd gone blind a year ago, McKenzie Grapengeter and her three children held out little hope for her return. But on 23 December they received a call saying Abby had been found more than 10 miles away – and without even a trace of frostbite.
Neighbours had planned to set live traps to find her, but in the end the dog found her own way along a winter trail to the house of Mark May, a local dog musher and vet. "Everybody just assumed it was some kind of scaredy cat, but... it was blind," May told the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. "I guess [she found her way] by just sniffing." May found Abby's owners by disseminating her photograph and description on Facebook. She was recognised by one of the Grapengeters' neighbours, and returned home in time for Christmas Eve. McKenzie Grapengeter called it a Christmas miracle. "There's no other word to describe it," she told the News-Miner. "She's blind. It's amazing."
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