|Pero the English Sheepdog traveled 240 miles to reunite with his original owner|
A homesick sheepdog made a remarkable 240-mile journey home to his birthplace in Wales after escaping from his new home in Cumbria.
In an incredible story that echoes the classic story Lassie Come Home, four-year-old working dog Pero is thought to have returned to the village of Penrhyncoch, Ceredigion by foot 12 days after escaping from his new owners in Cockermouth.
He turned up on the doorstep of his original owners Alan and Shan James limping and a little thinner than before, but in otherwise good condition.
To achieve the feat Pero would have had to travel an incredible 20 miles a day, potentially navigating busy motorways including the M6 and M62.
While the tale is reminiscent of fictional hounds like Lassie, who travelled hundreds of miles from the highlands of Scotland back home to Yorkshire, animal behaviour experts say it is not impossible that a dog in real life could make such a perilous journey.
Mrs James said it is a "mystery" how he found his way back home, after being sent to the Cumbrian farm for a trial.
“He obviously wasn’t happy in his new home, the farmer said he could see he didn’t settle. He was shy,” Mrs James, 48 said.
“He took him to gather some sheep and that was the last time he saw Pero, he was going across the field and not thinking of turning back.”
"I thought someone would get in touch because he had a microchip, but on Wednesday night after supper my husband went out and there he was on the doorstep waiting for him.
“He was jumping up at him he was going mad, just jumping around in circles. It’s just a mystery as to how he has turned up on the doorstep.
“They say dogs can find their way home but it’s quite a distance from Cockermouth. My sons go up there every year to shear and they have to use a sat-nav to get home so for a dog it’s quite remarkable.”
Dog behaviourist Stan Rawlinson said working dogs especially tend to have a "natural compass" and sense of spatial awareness.
The couple are now appealing for anyone who may have seen Pero on route between Cumbria and Wales to get in touch so they can piece together how me managed to get home.
After his journey Pero, one of 15 sheepdogs on the James's farm, is unlikely to be embarking on another adventure any time soon.
"I don’t think it would be fair for us to send Pero away again," Mrs James said. "He obviously enjoys his home. I’m sure Pero will see his years out here."
Is it plausible for a dog to walk 240 miles?
Tales abound of dogs' incredible loyalty and ability to track down their owners, from the fictional Lassie to the real life Greyfriars Bobby who is said to have spent 14 years guarding the grave of his former owner.
Nick Jones of Alpha Dog Behaviour said while "240 miles is in the realm of the fantastic", there were examples of dogs having made such journeys.
Legendary hounds include Bobbie the Wonder Dog, said to have made a journey of over 2,500 miles from Indiana to Oregon in 1924 six months after becoming separated from his owners on a road trip.
Last year it was claimed a dog injured in a hit-and-run accident in Russia walked nearly 200 miles just to find the woman who had nursed him back to health.
For most dog finding their way home even a few miles away is too much of a challenge, but Stan Rawlinson, a dog behaviourist said some dogs, especially working dogs, have an "amazing spatial memory" and "some sort of tracking mechanism to where they live".
He added: "How homing pigeons do it is they work on the magnetism in the earth, which is how we use compasses, so it’s almost like a spatial compass they have in their head, and it is believed dogs could have the same thing."
For a sheepdog, 20 miles a day would be "very do-able", Mr Rawlinson said.
"A sheepdog is used to running round and herding sheep and doing 40, 50 miles in some places. They travel miles and miles in a day."
He added: "The bond between a shepherd and his sheepdog is very close. "It needs to get back to the person it feels totally secure with and that’s how it gets that far."
Source UK Daily Telegraph