We have all seen those amazing stories of man’s best friend finding their way back home after months of being gone. New research has helped shed light on animal navigation.
When dogs go missing, one suggestion is made to leave out a piece of clothing or bedding item for them; anything that has a familiar scent.
Dogs tend to rely on familiar scents to find their way back home, and those scents can lead them a long way. A 10-mile distance is not that far, as long as wind conditions are in their favor.
Dogs are able to hone in on one specific smell like a familiar person, animal, or a pee marked tree and follow it for a long distance. The overlapping circles of familiar scents is just like us using our cell phone to pin a specific location.
But how about navigating twenty blocks away from your home with no sense of direction to locate a family member in a hospital that you have never been to before?
Call it coincidence or love, but a miniature Schnauzer in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, found herself in a hospital where her owner was battling cancer.
The Schnauzer, Sissy, belongs to Nancy Franck, 64, who had been at Mercy Medical Center for about two weeks following surgery.
Her husband, Dale Franck, 66, had been taking care of Sissy and her brother Barney, also a miniature Schnauzer, back at home while she was in recovery.
Nancy Franck has been battling uterine cancer, and though doctors believe most of the cancer is gone, she is undergoing chemotherapy to make sure, Dale Franck said.
The dog had no idea where her owner was, unless she were to follow those intriguing Mom molecules that had lured the dog out of the house and down those 20 blocks where she was found hustling through the lobby.
“She was on a mission that night to see her mom,” Dale Franck told ABC News, “but she couldn’t find the right elevator to take.”
Dale said he noticed Sissy was missing around 1:30 a.m. on a Saturday, and was worried sick. That is when the surveillance camera in the Mercy Medical Center caught the dog entering through the automatic doors and wandering around.
At 5:30 a.m., Dale received a phone call from security officer Samantha Conrad at the hospital saying they had found the lovable pooch. The security officer was able to find the family’s number and house address from the tag on her collar. As soon as he received the call, he asked his daughter to go and pick Sissy up.
Dale only has one theory about how Sissy might have gotten 20 blocks to see his wife. Nancy works at the Hall Perrine Cancer Center next door to the hospital, and Sissy has been in the car before when the family dropped her off there.
“The only thing I could think of was that Sissy used to ride with me to pick up my wife from work next door to the hospital,” Dale Franck said. “But we’ve never walked that route before.”
After arriving at the hospital, Dale Franck’s daughter got permission to take Sissy up to Nancy Franck for a few minutes. His daughter said that the “little spoiled brat” ran away from home because she just wanted to see her mom was okay.
“She has a close relationship with Sissy,” Dale added. “Sissy is 11 now, and we bought her when she was just about 8 weeks old. She came up to me, scratched my leg and fell asleep on my shoulder. I’d say we didn’t picker her, she picked us.”
For Nancy, it was a “big boost” to have Sissy appear, she told KWWL. Dog’s strong attachments to their owners can often result in incredible journeys to find them.