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8 Mysterious Tales of Traveling Dogs

Dogs disappear, dogs get lost, dogs are taken, and when we're lucky, dogs go home again. Here are eight stories of "How did that dog get here?"

Saudi Arabia to California

A purebred Saluki was found and taken to a shelter in Carlsbad, California. Shelter officials found an implanted microchip and hoped it would reunite the dog with its owners, but the information on the chip said the dog belonged to the U.S. Military Training Mission in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia! No one seriously thinks the dog made it to California from Saudi Arabia on its own, but how he arrived in the US is a mystery -for now. The San Diego County Animal Services Department hopes that publicity will help find the dog's rightful owner.

The Saluki is an extreme case of a dog out of place, but there are plenty of stories of a dog traveling hundreds of miles one way or another, whether to be reunited with family, or to get away from them -which may be against the dog's will.

70 Miles Through a War Zone

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Major Brian Dennis adopted an abused mixed-breed dog in Anbar Province, Iraq. He named the dog Nubs because his ears had been cut off. Dennis nursed Nubs back to health over four months, but then he was ordered to move his squadron 70 miles away. Two days later, Nubs rejoined Dennis! The dog had tracked him down despite subfreezing temperatures and rough terrain. But the major received orders to get rid of the dog within four days or he would be shot. Dennis started an email campaign to save Nubs that raised $3,500 within a couple of days, and battled bureaucratic difficulties to get the dog out of Iraq across the Jordanian border. Nubs was flown to the US the next week, where he was met by friends and a veterinarian in Chicago, then by a dog trainer at his final destination in San Diego. Major Dennis was reunited with Nubs after his tour was up a month later.

Florida to Louisiana

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A female Jack Russell terrier named ToBoi disappeared from Barbara Apostolo's home in Miramar, Florida. Three years later, she received a call from a shelter in Louisiana. ToBoi had been found, thanks to a microchip with Apostolo's contact information. A friend arranged to fly ToBoi back to Florida, where she was reunited with her owner. In addition to the mystery of how ToBoi got to Louisiana, Apostolo still doesn't know how the dog escaped in the first place.

Florida to Tennessee

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Dennis and Linda Geary had a chip implanted in their German Shepherd named Astro when they lived in Florida. The dog, obviously unhappy with the procedure, ran off and the Gearys didn't see him again for nine years. This past March, a shelter in Tennessee contacted the Gearys at their present home in Louisville, Kentucky to tell them they had Astro and had retrieved his owners' information from the microchip.

"We had him in Florida and then moved so many times from Florida to New Hampshire to Maine back down to Florida and then here to Kentucky. And somehow he ended up in Tennessee, it's unbelievable," the couple's son, Trevor Geary, said.

"All the way down we were like, 'What if this guy doesn't remember us,'" Dennis Geary said. "We got down there and he remembered the both of us as soon as he came out from behind the walls. He was wagging his tail, tipped his head and was like, 'Where have you been?'"

We'll probably never know where Astro was for nine years, but he is home now.

Five Nautical Miles to Land

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Jan and Dave Griffith were sailing off the coast of Queensland, Australia with their Australian cattle dog Sophie Tucker when rough seas pitched the dog overboard. As Sophie was a house dog without ocean experience, the Griffiths though she was gone for good. Four months later, Sophie was found on an uninhabited area of remote St. Bees Island. five nautical miles from where she went overboard. She apparently swam through shark-infested waters and survived on the island by eating wild goats. Sophie was suspicious and difficult to handle after her ordeal, but readjusted to her normal house dog life after she was reunited with the Griffiths.

Cornwall to Scotland

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Sonya and William McKerron of Cornwall, England were distraught when their 17-year-old collie Lucy wandered away from home in February. Four months later, a dog with an implanted microchip was picked up in a garden in Edinburgh, Scotland. It was Lucy, who had ended her journey 550 miles from home!  The shelter manager suspects that Lucy was taken by someone who brought her to Scotland, as she would have no reason to wander off to Scotland. We will probably never know for sure.

Kansas to Montana

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Cher Jarosz and her daughter Kari Mitchell of Lee's Summit, Missouri had a Boston Terrier named Mickey. In 2003, Mickey disappeared from their fenced-in back yard. As time passed, Jarosz and Mitchell gave up hope of ever seeing Mickey again. In 2007, a woman brought a lost Boston Terrier to a shelter in Billings, Montana. Shelter manager Kara Ward found a microchip on the dog which connected her to a veterinary clinic in Lee's Summit, Missouri -1,100 miles away.

"I called that vet clinic because they were the one that should have a record of that chip," Ward said. "I gave them the chip number, and the woman kind of started screaming.

"She goes, "˜Oh my God, is that a Boston terrier? Oh my God, it belongs to Kari Mitchell. She used to work here."'

Mickey was flown home to be reunited with his family.

77 Miles Through the Desert

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Doug Dashiell took his three dogs, including a Siberian husky named Moon on a weekend trip. The one-year-old dog broke free from a chain during a rest stop near Railroad Valley, Nevada. Dashiell searched for her for several hours, then went home to Ely, Nevada. He contacted a reservation near the area where Moon disappeared but no one had seen her. Within several days, Dashiell knew there was no hope for Moon. But just over a week after her disappearance, Moon was found on the streets of Ely! The distance from railroad Valley to Eli is 77 miles -more if you don't travel in a straight line- through the Nevada desert. Dashiell was contacted by his regular veterinary office after Moon was turned in. She smelled as if she had encountered a skunk, but the rest of her story is a mystery.

If these dogs could talk, their stories might be worthy of best sellers. As it is, they remain a mystery. One thing is clear: implanting your dog with an identifying microchip can really pay off.

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Wolfgang via Flickr // CC BY-ND 2.0
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holidays
8 Legendary Monsters of Christmas
Wolfgang via Flickr // CC BY-ND 2.0
Wolfgang via Flickr // CC BY-ND 2.0

The customs of the holiday season, which include St. Nicholas Day, New Years Day, and Epiphany, as well as Christmas, often incorporate earlier pagan traditions that have been appropriated and adapted for contemporary use. Customs that encourage little children to be good so as to deserve their Christmas gifts often come with a dark side: the punishment you'll receive from a monster or evil being of some sort if you aren't good! These nefarious characters vary from place to place, and they go by many different names and images.

1. KRAMPUS

As a tool to encourage good behavior in children, Santa serves as the carrot, and Krampus is the stick. Krampus is the evil demon anti-Santa, or maybe his evil twin. Krampus Night is celebrated on December 5, the eve of St. Nicholas Day in Austria and other parts of Europe. Public celebrations that night have many Krampuses walking the streets, looking for people to beat. Alcohol is also involved. Injuries in recent years have led to some reforms, such as requiring all Krampuses to wear numbers so they may identified in case of overly violent behavior.

Krampus may look like a devil, or like a wild alpine beast, depending on what materials are available to make a Krampus costume. In modern times, people can spend as much as they like to become the best Krampus around—and the tradition is spreading beyond Europe. Many cities in America have their own Krampus Nights now.

2. JÓLAKÖTTURINN

Jólakötturinn is the Icelandic Yule Cat or Christmas Cat. He is not a nice cat. In fact, he might eat you. This character is tied to an Icelandic tradition in which those who finished all their work on time received new clothes for Christmas, while those who were lazy did not (although this is mainly a threat). To encourage children to work hard, parents told the tale of the Yule Cat, saying that Jólakötturinn could tell who the lazy children were because they did not have at least one new item of clothing for Christmas—and these children would be sacrificed to the Yule Cat. This reminder tends to spur children into doing their chores! A poem written about the cat ends with a suggestion that children help out the needy, so they, too, can have the protection of new clothing. It's no wonder that Icelanders put in more overtime at work than most Europeans.

3. FRAU PERCHTA


Flickr // Markus Ortner

Tales told in Germany and Austria sometimes feature a witch named Frau Perchta who hands out both rewards and punishments during the 12 days of Christmas (December 25 through Epiphany on January 6). She is best known for her gruesome punishment of the sinful: She will rip out your internal organs and replace them with garbage. The ugly image of Perchta may show up in Christmas processions in Austria, somewhat like Krampus.

Perchta's story is thought to have descended from a legendary Alpine goddess of nature, who tends the forest most of the year and deals with humans only during Christmas. In modern celebrations, Perchta or a close relation may show up in processions during Fastnacht, the Alpine festival just before Lent. There may be some connection between Frau Perchta and the Italian witch La Befana, but La Befana isn't really a monster: she's an ugly but good witch who leaves presents.

4. BELSNICKEL

A drawing of Belsnickel.
Lucas, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

Belsnickel is a male character from southwestern German lore who traveled to the United States and survives in Pennsylvania Dutch customs. He comes to children sometime before Christmas, wearing tattered old clothing and raggedy fur. Belsnickel carries a switch to frighten children and candy to reward them for good behavior. In modern visits, the switch is only used for noise, and to warn children they still have time to be good before Christmas. Then all the children get candy, if they are polite about it. The name Belsnickel is a portmanteau of the German belzen (meaning to wallop) and nickel for St. Nicholas. See a video of a Belsnickel visit here.

Knecht Ruprecht and Ru Klaas are similar characters from German folklore who dole out beatings to bad children, leaving St. Nicholas to reward good children with gifts.

5. HANS TRAPP

Hans Trapp is another "anti-Santa" who hands out punishment to bad children in the Alsace and Lorraine regions of France. The legend says that Trapp was a real man, a rich, greedy, and evil man, who worshiped Satan and was excommunicated from the Catholic Church. He was exiled into the forest where he preyed upon children, disguised as a scarecrow with straw jutting out from his clothing. He was about to eat one boy he captured when he was struck by lightning and killed—a punishment of his own from God. Still, he visits young children before Christmas, dressed as a scarecrow, to scare them into good behavior.

6. PÈRE FOUETTARD

The French legend of Père Fouettard, whose name translates to "Father Whipper," begins with an evil butcher who craved children to eat. He (or his wife) lured three boys into his butcher shop, where he killed, chopped, and salted them. St. Nicholas came to the rescue, resurrected the boys, and took custody of the butcher. The captive butcher became Père Fouettard, St. Nicholas' servant whose job it is to dispense punishment to bad children on St. Nicholas Day.

7. THE YULE LADS

The Jólasveinar, or Yule Lads, are 13 Icelandic trolls, who each have a name and distinct personality. In ancient times, they stole things and caused trouble around Christmastime, so they were used to scare children into behaving, like the Yule Cat. However, the 20th century brought tales of the benevolent Norwegian figure Julenisse (Santa Claus), who brought gifts to good children. The traditions became mingled, until the formerly devilish Jólasveinar became kind enough to leave gifts in shoes that children leave out ... if they are good boys and girls. 

8. GRÝLA

All the Yule Lads answer to Grýla, their mother. She predates the Yule Lads in Icelandic legend as the ogress who kidnaps, cooks, and eats children who don't obey their parents. She only became associated with Christmas in the 17th century, when she was assigned to be the mother of the Yule Lads. According to legend, Grýla had three different husbands and 72 children, all who caused trouble ranging from harmless mischief to murder. As if the household wasn't crowded enough, the Yule Cat also lives with Grýla. This ogress is so much of a troublemaker that The Onion blamed her for the 2010 eruption of the Eyjafjallajökull volcano.

A version of this post originally ran in 2013. See also: more Legendary Monsters

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History
84 Years Ago Today: Goodbye Prohibition!
A huge queue outside the Board of Health offices in Centre Street, New York, for licenses to sell alcohol shortly after the repeal of prohibition. The repeal of prohibition was a key policy of Franklin Roosevelt's government as it allowed the government an opportunity to raise tax revenues at a time of economic hardship.
A huge queue outside the Board of Health offices in Centre Street, New York, for licenses to sell alcohol shortly after the repeal of prohibition. The repeal of prohibition was a key policy of Franklin Roosevelt's government as it allowed the government an opportunity to raise tax revenues at a time of economic hardship.
Keystone/Getty Images

It was 84 years ago today that the Twenty-First Amendment to the Constitution was ratified, repealing the earlier Amendment that declared the manufacture, sale, and transport of alcohol illegal in the United States. Prohibition was over! Booze that had been illegal for 13 years was suddenly legal again, and our long national nightmare was finally over.


A giant barrel of beer, part of a demonstration against prohibition in America.
Henry Guttmann/Getty Images

Prohibition of alcohol was not a popular doctrine. It turned formerly law-abiding citizens into criminals. It overwhelmed police with enforcement duties and gave rise to organized crime. In cities like Milwaukee and St. Louis, the dismantling of breweries left thousands of people unemployed.


Photograph courtesy of the Boston Public Library

Homemade alcohol was often dangerous and some people died from drinking it. Some turned to Sterno or industrial alcohol, which was dangerous and sometimes poisoned by the government to discourage drinking. State and federal governments were spending a lot of money on enforcement, while missing out on taxes from alcohol.


New York City Deputy Police Commissioner John A. Leach (right) watches agents pour liquor into sewer following a raid during the height of Prohibition.

The midterm elections of 1930 saw the majority in Congress switch from Republican to Democratic, signaling a shift in public opinion about Prohibition as well as concerns about the depressed economy. Franklin Roosevelt, who urged repeal, was elected president in 1932. The Twenty-first Amendment to the Constitution was proposed by Congress in February of 1933, the sole purpose of which was to repeal the Eighteenth Amendment establishing Prohibition.


American men guarding their private beer brewing hide-out, during Prohibition.
Keystone/Getty Images

With passage of the Constitutional Amendment to repeal Prohibition a foregone conclusion, a huge number of businessmen lined up at the Board of Health offices in New York in April of 1933 to apply for liquor licenses to be issued as soon as the repeal was ratified.

The Amendment was ratified by the states by the mechanism of special state ratifying conventions instead of state legislatures. Many states ratified the repeal as soon as conventions could be organized. The ratifications by the required two-thirds of the states was achieved on December 5, 1933, when conventions in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Utah agreed to repeal Prohibition through the Amendment.


Workmen unloading crates of beer stacked at a New York brewery shortly after the repeal of Prohibition.
Keystone/Getty Images

A brewery warehouse in New York stacked crates past the ceiling to satisfy a thirsty nation after the repeal of Prohibition.


Keystone/Getty Images

Liquor wouldn't officially be legal until December 15th, but Americans celebrated openly anyway, and in most places, law enforcement officials let them.

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