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Australian dog found alive on island four months after being lost at sea

Sophie Tucker fell overboard and disappeared as Jan Griffith and her family sailed through choppy waters towards Scawfeld Island off the northeast Queensland coast in November, 2008. The dog was believed to have drowned and Griffith said the family was devastated, but out of sight of the family Sophie Tucker kept swimming and finally made it to St Bees Island, five nautical miles away.

When Jan and Dave Griffith lost their beloved pet, an Australian cattle dog named Sophie Tucker, on a boating trip last November, they thought she was gone for good.

The Griffiths' boat hit choppy waters near the coastal Queensland town of Mackay, and Sophie Tucker fell into the ocean.  "We were able to [backtrack] to look for her, but because it was a grey day, we just couldn't find her and we searched for well over an hour," Mrs. Griffith told the Brisbane Times.  "We thought that once she had hit the water she would have been gone because the wake from the boat was so big."

The couple was devastated.  Sophie Tucker, on the other hand, went into survival mode.  She swam five nautical miles to St. Bees Island, where her wild instincts kicked in -- she spent the following months surviving on a diet of wild goats and gaining infamy among the island's few human residents. 

Last week, rangers caught the dog, whom they assumed to be feral.  But news reached the Griffiths that a cattle dog had been found on St. Bees, and they contacted rangers to see if it could be Sophie Tucker.  Long story short: It could! 

"We called the dog and she started whimpering and banging the cage and they let her out and she just about flattened us," Mrs. Griffith recalled of the reunion in an interview with the Australian Associated Press.  "She wriggled around like a mad thing."

Although Sophie Tucker (who's named after the Vaudeville star) had become vicious during her months of feral living, her owners report that she has successfully made the transition back to "house dog" (and is enjoying the luxury of air conditioning).

-- Lindsay Barnett

Photo: Jan Griffith / AFP/Getty Images

 
Comments () | Archives (18)

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Guys, thank you for this story that shows that occasionally there is a happy ending to such horrific circumstances. I would question why the couple brought along the dog in the first place when all their grief could've been avoided if they had left the dog at home SAFE from the danger that they chose to expose themselves to. They were "lucky" this time; be more scrupulous in keeping your dog safe because they depend on humans to keep them so. They're like babies, they never grow up.

Cecelia,
Many people take their dogs boating and many dogs love the experience. The weather cannot always be predicted; therefore, unless there is evidence otherwise, I see no reason why this incident should be seen as animal neglect.

Most dogs are happiest when they can be with their family at all times. I don't think there is anything wrong with taking a dog along on a family vacation. It is much better than the alternative of locking the dog up in a kennel while traveling. As for this little Cattle Dog, she proved she's not like a baby at all--she can quite take care of herself!

Great ending to a poor odds situation. Good care on the part of the rangers and good communication too. We take our water spaniel boating, but never on open water where currents offer little hope for recovery. It would be taking a chance for our own pleasure and convenience. We don't take our 7 year old with us on open water to walk about the deck so why take our beloved dog. Storms come up suddenly, wind shifts and even mechanical problems. We don't take our dog in the car when it's sunny out or above 62 degrees. Might get delayed in a store or who knows. Better to have him alive and well than take a chance on not. Glad for the happy ending on this story though.

Cecelia,
You should get out more. Life of full of risk. Stay home or just do it.

ACD's rule. Cool dogs

Great story. My only demurral: any dog on a boat should be wearing a life jacket at all times. They do not have sneakers to grab the deck, they do not have hands to grab a railing. They need a life jacket!

Bring the dogs -- many enjoy boating and all well adjusted dogs enjoy being with their families. But you can keep them safe(r) when boating by having them wear a doggie life vest.

To protect the dog in future, purchase a lifejacket for her.

ACD's are great dogs...adaptable and well used to taking care of themselves. This is a just one example of what these little pups are capable of.
Wouldn't have traded any of mine for a so called designer dog.
My Billie is at my feet as I write...

Funny, my cousin's name is Sophie Tucker!!!!!!!!! (Age 5)

She was the one to find this article on the Tv in britain

Thnx

I've never owned an ACD but know them to be tough minded, courageous, energetic animals. Sophie certainly proved the tough part. Just swimming that far is a heck of an accomplishment, especially for a quadruped who expends a lot of energy swimming.

Micki- Never heard of ACD's, but "accidentally" adopted a baby a few weeks ago. He is AWSOME. The most beautiful dog I've ever seen. Rescue site erroneously listed him as a "Catahoula", I adopted the Catahoula,having never heard of one twelve years ago. Love these shelter guys.

Nothing ACD's do surprises me anymore. I own two of them, and they are unbelievably great dogs.

They won't be ignored, however, They need constant stimulation, and really enjoy working. Lots of exercise too.....we live in HB and have had more than a few encounters w/coyotes. On bike rides from the wetlands, we have been chased home by a few before. I feel like telling the coyotes to chill....b/c the ACD's are crazy enough and wild enough to probably join their pack. :-)

Great, great story. What an amazing animal.

I own an ACD, Matilda (Tillie), she is a great companion. I knew she was a handful when I bought her. She was trained by a professional who handles German Shepards, than he and Tillie trained me. I hope Tillie is as proud of me as Sophie is of the Griffiths. Tillie is also a trained therapy dog and works wonderfully with people who are intellectually disabled.

Keith,
You should proofread more. Sentences are full of errors. Just do it, or don't stay home on the internet fronting condescension.

That aside, the above story is fantastic. I usually don't even like cute news coverage, but I think I'm just attracted to the idea of a house pet being thrust into a survival situation and overcoming it with flying colours.

It is so great that Sofie had a happy ending to her "castaway" ordeal. ACD's are awesome dogs. My parents have had 3 over the last 30 years, all have been smart and couragous members of the family. My husband and I bought 7 week old litter mates and brought them home yesterday. I am so excited to see what "Harley and Reba" have to teach me in the coming years

i do wont this dog

Being the owner of a "Blue Healer" myself I know firsthand that they are resilient, intelligent, and problem solvers. They were breed for endurance, energy, and to take the punishment dished out by two thousand pound livestock. I love mine for his loyalty, protective nature, and intense sense of purpose. They are unequaled in herding and are one of the top three most intelligent dog breeds. It does not surprise me that this dog was a Australian Cattle Dog. Also it is note worthy to mention that dogs are probably the reason that man survived the ice age and they are the only animal of their size that will take on animals 100 times their size and weight to protect their owners and family.


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