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Stories of The Truly Remarkable Homing Abilities of Dogs

Updated: Feb 14

Prepare to be amazed!

Bobbie the Wonder Dog
Bobbie the Wonder Dog | Credit: YouTube

Perhaps the most famous story involves a collie cross in America who became known as 'Bobbie the Wonder Dog'. Older readers may recall watching the Disney movie Lassie Come-Home, which many suspect was inspired by Bobbie. But the real-life story goes like this: In August 1923, the Brazier family lost Bobbie on their holiday in Indiana; and in February 1924 he was back home with them in Oregon. All the evidence indicates he walked the whole way, about 2,800 miles, over six months and through frigid winter conditions. His extraordinary endurance aside, how did he know where to go?

In his book Telepathy, Clairvoyance and Precognition, Robert Charman cites 1965 trials conducted by Dr Bernhard Müller with 75 dogs, all released far from home. Many got lost, but one third made it. These animals would point for a while in varying directions, and then head off - making their best progress when it was dark.

A Czech study in 2020, published in eLifeSciences, involved 27 dogs and found that one-third of them used the Earth’s north-south magnetic axis as a guide, rather than first scenting or looking for visual cues. Which is perhaps why, in the 1930s, a fox terrier was able to walk every week between his old and new homes in England - despite being completely blind.

According to Richard Sugg, author of Kali the Wonder Dog, there are many other extraordinary stories. On Christmas Eve 1973, an alsatian named Barry turned up at his home in Germany, after being lost in southern Italy during a holiday six months before. He had apparently walked 1,200 miles. In 1949, a pomeranian made it home to New York, 16 months after he was lost in the Blue Ridge Mountains 1,000 miles away. In 2016, a collie went missing in Cumbria, north west England. He had recently been sent from his home farm in Wales to help with sheep-herding. A fortnight later he was back at the Welsh farm, 240 miles away.

Whilst all of these canine homing-ability stories are truly remarkable, the one that probably outdoes them all, is that of an Irish terrier named Prince. In August 1914, a month after the start of the first world war, Private James Brown was mobilised for Armentières in France. In late September, Prince went missing from home in west London - as Brown’s wife wrote in a letter he received at the end of November. Brown replied: “I am sorry you have not found Prince; and you are never likely to while he is over here with me.”

Prince became the regiment’s beloved mascot, wearing his own khaki jacket and sometimes riding on horseback. He killed countless trench rats, hitting a record of 137 in one day. Better yet, he and his owner both survived the war.

Perhaps we will fully understand the exact science of these uncanny adventures some day. But, for now, suggests Richard Sugg, the most plausible answer to how they all did it is simply: love.

Know any dog owners who would love these stories? Feel free to share this article and spread the good news about OGN Daily!

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