Alaskan Dog Went on Quite the Adventure

Australian shepherd Nanuq thought to have traveled 166 miles across sea ice
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 13, 2023 4:56 PM CDT
Alaskan Dog Went on 166-Mile Adventure
This photo shows Nanuq in the middle with Mandy Iworrigan's daughter, Brooklyn Faith. On the left is daughter Zoey with Starlight and on the right is Ty Ruben with Kujo.   (Mandy Iworrigan via AP)

Alaska's Mandy Iworrigan was amazed when one of her family's lost dogs turned up before her eyes, nearly 40 miles from home. Iworrigan lives in Gambell on St. Lawrence Island—it's about as close as you can get to Russia while still in the US. She was away from home in March when she learned two of her dogs had vanished. Though worried, she figured there was nothing she could do from the town of Savoonga, also on the island. Actually, there was nothing she needed to do because one dog, Starlight, turned up in Savoonga, some 37 miles from home, 2.5 weeks later, the Anchorage Daily News reports. His companion, 1-year-old Australian shepherd Nanuq, would also make it back to the family, though his odyssey makes Starlight's look like a hop, skip, and a jump.

About a week later, her dad told her that a dog resembling Nanuq had been found in Wales, the westernmost city on the North American mainland. As the Daily News reports, it's "a 166-mile straight shot from Gambell over plates of sea ice feeding into the choke point of the Bering Strait." When Iworrigan saw a photo on Facebook, "I was like, 'No freakin' way! That's our dog!'" she tells the outlet. Locals kept an eye on the pooch while Iworrigan arranged to get him home. There were no direct flights, but she found a charter flight carrying school children from Wales to St. Lawrence Island via the town of Nome, further south on the Seward Peninsula, for a sports tournament.

She used airline points to get Nanuq on board and had a camera rolling as the plane touched down last week, per the AP. The footage shows Iworrigan's daughter, Brooklyn, running with Starlight to the plane's cargo hold. "Nanuq! Hi. Good boy!" cried Iworrigan, as a dog crate was revealed. She can't be sure what he got up to during the month he was missing but says he likely ate seal, which he can catch on his own. It's also possible he encountered a polar bear. He has two large bite marks on one leg, for which he is taking antibiotics. "It's like a really big bite," says Iworrigan, speculating that it might've come from a small polar bear, wolverine, or seal. "If dogs could talk, both [Nanuq and Starlight] would have one heck of a story," she notes. (More uplifting news stories.)

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