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Lost, blind dog finds way back to Alaska owners

Published: Thursday, Dec. 27, 2012 5:30 a.m. CDT
Caption
(AP photo/provided photo)
In this undated photo provided by McKenzie Grapengeter, the Grapengeter children, (from left) Ava, 6, Greg, 10, and Shane, 9, pose for a photo with their dog, Abby, who is blind and went missing more than a week ago during heavy snow storms, in their home in Fairbanks, Alaska. After walking 10 miles to the edge of a local musher's dog yard, Abby the brown-and-white mixed breed was found and returned to her owners Sunday, just in time for Christmas.

FAIRBANKS, Alaska – Blind and alone in Alaska winter temperatures that dipped 40 degrees below zero, a lost 8-year-old Fairbanks dog wasn't given much of a chance to make it home.

But after walking 10 miles to the edge of a local musher's dog yard, Abby the brown-and-white mixed breed was found and returned to her owners, a family that includes two boys and one girl under the age of 10.

The dog that the family raised from an animal-shelter puppy went missing during a snowstorm on Dec. 13, and the family never expected to see her again, The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported.

"It's a miracle, there's no other words to describe it," said McKenzie Grapengeter, emotion choking her voice and tears coming to her eyes. "We never expected to have her to be returned safe and alive."

Musher and veterinarian Mark May said he came across the dog while running his team on Dec. 19, 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 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 mile on the winter trail down into this neighborhood, I guess by just sniffing, so I picked it up and brought it in."

To 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 hadn't 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," McKenzie Grapengeter said. "They've given us the most amazing Christmas gift we could ever ask for."

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