McKenzie Grapengeter and her kids were sure they’d be spending this Christmas mourning the loss of their dog, Abby, who’d disappeared into a Fairbanks, Alaska snowstorm December 13.
The family searched frantically for the missing 8-year-old brown and white mixed breed dogfor days, but as temperatures dipped to 40 below zero, the Grapengeters began to lose hope. After all, how could a little dog possibly survive such extreme temperatures, and how would Abby, who’d gone blind several years earlier, ever find her way back to a home she couldn’t see?
But luckily the family’s heartbreak wouldn’t last long. Sunday, McKenzie Grapengeter answered the phone and heard the news she’d hoped for but hadn’t expected—Abby was alive, and had been found at a home 10 miles away.
“It’s a miracle, there’s no other words to describe it,”Grapengeter told the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner after Abby’s homecoming. “We never expected to have her to be returned safe and alive. She’s blind. It’s a miracle. It’s amazing.”
In the days after Abby went missing, veterinarian and musher Mark May was one of many community members who spotted the near the trails where May runs his dog sledding team. The pup had curled up in the snow, cold and scared, May explained.
“The poor little dog had no coat and it had melted a hole about 10 or 8 inches deep,” May said. “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. I said, ‘Boy I hope it finds somebody’s house.”
And find a house she did; the next day, Abby followed her nose to Mark May’s doorstep. The musher couldn’t believe his eyes.
“Everybody just assumed it was some kind of a scardey cat,”May said of Abby, “but there it was in front of the door of our dog lot and it was blind. It was sitting there, all the way from 14 mile on the winter trail down into this neighborhood, I guess by sniffing, so I picked it up and brought it in.”
May knew that Abby must’ve been out in the cold for some time, but was astonished that the little brown-and-white dog wasn’t worse for the wear.
“It’s amazing. No frozen ears, no frozen toes,” he said,“she’ll probably go back home and it’ll be business as usual.”
As Abby settled in and warmed up at May’s house, her rescuer was determined to help Abby find her way home for Christmas. The task would prove a little difficult, as Abby was wearing no identification tags and had no microchip, but May had a plan B.
Using social media, May shared photographs and descriptions of Abby, hoping that someone would recognize the lost pup. Members of the community spread the word, until finally, a neighbor recognized the dog on their computer screen as Abby Grapengeter. Thanks to the kindness of an entire community, Abby made it home for Christmas Eve with her family.
“We’re so, so grateful for all their hard work,” McKenzie Grapengeter said of the network of friends, neighbors, and complete strangers that helped bring Abby home. “This community is so amazing, we would have never seen her again if it [hadn’t] been for the people. They’ve given us the most amazing Christmas gift we could ever ask for and we are all so grateful to them.”
Source: Fairbanks Daily News-Miner