A one-year-old Australian shepherd returned to its owners in Alaska after more than a month apart, having undertaken an epic odyssey across 150 miles (240km) of frozen Bering Sea ice which involved a run-in with a mystery animal.
Nanuq’s owner, Mandy Iworrigan, lives in Gambell on St Lawrence island in the Bering Strait, and she and her family were visiting Savoogna, another community on the island, last month.
While they were there, Nanuq disappeared with the family’s other dog, Starlight, according to the Anchorage Daily News.
Starlight turned up a few weeks later but Nanuq remained missing.
A month after Nanuq, which means polar bear in Siberian Yupik, disappeared, people in the town of Wales on the Alaskan mainland, began posting pictures online of a lost dog.
Wales is around 150 miles (240km) northeast of Savoogna across the Bering Sea.
“My dad texted me and said, ‘There’s a dog that looks like Nanuq in Wales,'” Ms Iworrigan said.
She checked the pictures on Facebook and was shocked to discover that it was her wandering hound.
“I was like, ‘No freakin’ way! That’s our dog! What is he doing in Wales?'” she said.
“I have no idea why he ended up in Wales. Maybe the ice shifted while he was hunting,” Ms Iworrigan said. “I’m pretty sure he ate leftovers of seal or caught a seal. Probably birds, too. He eats our native foods. He’s smart.”
Ms Iworrigan used airline points to get her dog back to Gambell on a regional air carrier last week and filmed the happy reunion when the plane landed at the airstrip in Savoonga, as she and her daughter Brooklyn shrieked with joy.
During his mystery adventure, Nanuq apparently encountered a predator as he was found with large bite marks on a swollen leg from an unidentified animal.
“Wolverine, seal, small nanuq… we don’t know, because it’s like a really big bite,” she said.