There’s no limit to how far we’ll travel to be with our loved ones. Apparently, there’s no limit to how far dogs will go either. Meet Zelda, a former foster dog with a horrible history, a very bright future, and more determination than you’d think possible. Here’s the story of how Zelda walked 40 miles to find her way back to her owner.
The Story of Zelda and Seneca
Last year, psychotherapist and long-time doggy foster mom Seneca Krueger met her newest foster baby, an adorable little pooch called Zelda with a big heart and a very unfortunate past. As the animalchannel.co explains, Seneca had already fostered over 30 pups before Zelda, many of whom had problems as a result of their former lives. But despite her experience, even she wasn’t completely prepared for the troubled state that Zelda was in. “She came with anti-anxiety medications,” Seneca tells The Dodo (https://www.thedodo.com/close-to-home/dog-walks-40-miles-back-to-her-foster-mom). “She was either pacing or hiding.”
Seneca is used to working with dogs that have been recused from either abuse or desperate circumstances. She knows that her primary job as a foster parent is to give them enough love and affection to rebuild their trust in people. But she wasn’t prepared for just how tough it would be to restore some degree of normalcy to Zelda’s life. Without a doubt, Zelda was shaping up to be her most challenging case so far. Although the pair hit it off almost immediately, Zelda was skittish, nervous, and more prone to hiding away than coming out to play. The anti-anxiety medicine helped, but wasn’t enough on its own to mend the anxious dog’s frayed nerves.
If Zelda ever stood a chance of finding a forever home, Seneca had some serious work in front of her. Finally, she had a breakthrough. She noticed that whenever the pup was attached to a leash, she instantly became calmer. Once Seneca began tether training her, Zelda slowly began to open up. Over the next few weeks, Seneca slowly began to wean the dog off her anti-anxiety medications. She stopped pacing and even built up enough courage to come out of hiding for brief periods.
After two months of living with Seneca, Zelda wagged her tail for the very first time. After four months, she’d built up enough courage to begin making friends with Seneca’s two other dogs. Soon, she was playing and barking just like any other pup. The job wasn’t finished – Zelda still grew nervous around strangers or sudden noises – but her progress had been remarkable. The anxious, pacing puppy that Seneca had first met had been replaced by a contented, confident dog. It was time for the next step in her journey – finding a forever home.
Parting of the Ways
It didn’t take Zelda long to find a new family. But the parting proved much tougher than Seneca had anticipated. She knew that her role as foster mom was done. She’d helped Zelda regain her confidence and trust, and it was now time to let her get on with her new life. But that didn’t make saying goodbye any easier. Driving home, Seneca had to pull over to the side of the road to wipe away her tears. “For the first time, I felt like I was giving away my dog,” she’s recalled.
Over the coming days, Seneca didn’t stop missing her little friend, but at least she knew she was safe and happy. And then, ten days after their parting, she got a distressing phone call from Zelda’s new family. Zelda had disappeared. Somehow, she’d managed to slip her leash and run away. Seneca immediately jumped in her car and drove to meet the family. Once she arrived, they set up a search and rescue team, installing cameras and food stations around the area. Luckily, one of the cameras managed to capture Zelda on film – she was still no closer to being found, but at least the rescuers knew she was still alive.
The Search Continues
Over the coming days, Seneca and the rescue team continued their efforts to find Zelda. But they had a problem. Winter was setting in and the days were getting colder and colder. Speaking to ronproject.com, Seneca has recalled how she would spend hours trying to track Zelda through frozen ravines and fields, desperate to get her home where she’d be safe and warm.
But the search proved fruitless. Wherever Zelda had disappeared, Seneca was no closer to finding her. But then, just as she was starting to give up hope, Zelda was spotted in Minneapolis. As Minneapolis is located directly between Seneca’s home and Zelda’s new permanent home, Seneca realized that the little dog was trying to make her way back to her.
Two more weeks passed with no new sightings. But then, Zelda was spotted in Seneca’s neighborhood. She set up food stations and cameras like the last time, and laid laundry out in her yard in the hope Zelda would catch her scent and find her way home. Shortly after, a couple she knew called to say they’d seen a dog that looked like Zelda wandering the streets. Seneca didn’t want to raise her hopes only to have them dashed again, but she also knew that either way, she had to find out for sure. The lost dog was found. She was emaciated, dirty, and looked nothing like the Zelda Seneca remembered. She had to be a different dog, surely. But after taking the little dog to the veterinary surgery to be checked over, a scan of her microchip revealed the truth. The filthy, malnourished creature was, in fact, Zelda. Somehow, the little dog had managed to walk over 40 miles to find her way back to Seneca.
“It was a miracle. I sobbed,” she remembers. “I told her that she was going home forever.” Zelda’s adopted family decided to sign Zelda back over to the animal rescue center, leaving Seneca free to give the little dog a permanent home. Since then, the pair have rarely left each other’s side. “She’s my Velcro dog,” Seneca says. “Zelda is officially my dog.” Not that she had much choice in the matter either way – if a dog is prepared to travel 40 miles to be with you, you can’t say no!