Do you remember the 1930's show "Lassie Come Home" with Roddy McDowell as a little boy whose dog has to overcome all types of obstacles to make it back home after getting lost?
The show has been remade several times, including another version called "The Incredible Journey" that was itself redone twice.
The story is always about some pet determined to make their way home, often over many miles. Their tenacity to continue the trek back to their beloved masters might take them months to accomplish. But their "instinct" to return home never falters.
Well, that's a good story, and that scenario actually plays out in real life occasionally.
The nursing home where I work was traumatized just before Christmas by the disappearance of our "Katie."
Katie is a brindled colored medium sized dog. Her owner said the vet had dubbed her a cross between an Australian Shepherd and a Blue Heeler. She was "officially" a mutt.
But -- what a mutt!
Talk about talent -- well, she has the talent to not bark often and she does some tricks on command. At least as long as the treats hold out. She does them as well as any middle-aged, kind of "frumpy" dog can do them. And she does them with great enthusiasm and to appreciative applause from the residents and staff.
The morning charge nurse owns Katie and had been bringing her in to visit during the day when she worked. The staff and residents all adored this gentle-natured, well-mannered canine.
We were all disturbed when her owner came in one morning just before Christmas and said Katie had gone out to tend to business and had not come back.
It was difficult to believe that she had run away or wandered off. For one thing, she always went out with the owners two other dogs. They came back, Katie did not.
While in the nursing home, Katie followed her owner like a shadow. It just didn't seem likely that she would wander off and get lost and impossible to think she had ran away.
Several residents had built a deep affection and friendship with Katie and asked about her. Although the other two dogs did their best to keep them entertained, they lacked Katie's inclination to lay their heads on the residents' laps while sitting next to them. They have their own appeal, but to the residents who had picked Katie as their pet, no other dog matched up.
Almost two weeks after she disappeared, Katie came running back in to her owner's yard and home. She had lost some weight, but didn't look like she had been out in the weather. She seemed in good health and was clean and had no injuries.
A couple of days after she returned, the nurse brought her back to visit. The residents lost no time welcoming her home with lots of hugs and pets.
The staff were glad to see her as well and found ways to "sneak" her a few snacks. Although she looks and acts much the same, Katie seems little changed from her experience in the world alone without her owner, fellow dogs and many caring friends. Only she knows where she has been and what she has been through.
If you are the kind stranger who took her in and kept her fed and loved for a couple of weeks until you (or fate) found a way to get her back home -- thank you!
All those who love her are so glad she is back.
It may be just another "Lassie Come Home" story, but this story was about a very beloved little dog named Katie.
Until the next time friends remember when you are lost or confused, you can often count on the kindnesses of strangers to help you survive and if you are really lucky, help you find your own way back home.