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Lost dog travels over 150 miles across treacherous terrain before reuniting home to his family

He was lost in a far-north town in Alaska and was found across the waters in Wales. Apart from a leg bite, the dog is safe and home.

Lost dog travels over 150 miles across treacherous terrain before reuniting home to his family
Image Source: Facebook/Mandy Iworrigan

Losing a pet can be a heart-wrenching experience for pet owners, as many consider their pets to be an integral part of their family. The uncertainty of not knowing their pet's whereabouts or condition can cause immense distress. A family from the far-northern Alaskan town of Nome went through such a heartbreaking experience when two of their three gorgeous dogs disappeared.

Mandy Iworrigan, a mother of three, is also the owner of three dogs with whom her children share an extremely close bond. However, according to Good News Network, two of their dogs, Starlight and Nanuq, disappeared during a trip to their uncle’s town of Savoonga in March.


According to Mandy, it is possible that her uncle's dog, Ghost, may have led Starlight and Nanuq on a wild adventure across the frozen terrain. Ghost is known to wander for several days to a week before returning home, but Starlight and Nanuq weren't as familiar with the area. Regardless, Starlight returned after approximately two and a half weeks, while Nanuq was still missing. This left Nanuq's 8-year-old sister and Mandy's daughter, Brooklyn Iworrigan, feeling scared and anxious. Everyone was looking for Nanuq and with every day that passed by, they became more worried about his well-being.


After a week, Mandy's father sent her a text message informing her that a dog resembling Nanuq had been sighted in the small town of Wales, located on the Seward Peninsula, a staggering 166 miles away from Svoonga. Residents were posting images of an unfamiliar dog on a Facebook page commonly used for trading goods and gossip by people living in Nome and the surrounding areas. Mandy quickly reactivated her Facebook account and was extremely delighted to find out that the lost dog was in fact their Nanuq. She told Anchorage Daily News, "I was like, 'No freakin’ way! That’s our dog! What is he doing in Wales?'"


Nanuq the Australian shepherd had managed to navigate 166 miles of frozen ice flows in the Bearing Strait, which separates Asia from North America. This treacherous stretch of water is known for being home to polar bears and it is even more astonishing that the canine made the journey at the tail end of winter. Mandy said, "I have no idea why he ended up in Wales. Maybe the ice shifted while he was hunting. I’m pretty sure he ate leftovers of seal or caught a seal. Probably birds, too. He eats our Native foods. He’s smart."

In Wales, a brother and sister looked after Nanuq for several days while Mandy made arrangements for his safe return home. Unfortunately, there were no direct flights from Wales to St. Lawrence Island. However, there was a charter flight scheduled to transport some school children from St. Lawrence Island via Nome to Gambell for the Native Youth Olympics tournament organized by the Bering Strait School District.


Using a crate loaned to her by a teacher, Mandy successfully arranged for Nanuq to be transported on the charter flight. To cover the expense of freighting the dog back home, she utilized her airline points on a regional carrier. Nanuq finally arrived safely at his home on April 6. Other than a swollen leg with two large bite marks, the canine is in perfectly good health. "Wolverine, seal, small nanuq [the Siberian Yupik word for a polar bear], we don’t know, because it’s like a really big bite. if dogs could talk, both of them would have one heck of a story," Mandy said.

She went on to express her gratitude, stating that if it weren't for the kind and compassionate individuals who took the initiative to look after a lost dog and share information about him online, she and her family may never have been reunited with Nanuq. "Alaska has caring people, and I’m happy for that. I’m blessed and fortunate,” she said. “There’s people that actually care out there." 

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