Sometimes, a dog and their person simply belong together. Memphis, TN vet tech Rachel Kauffman discovered this firsthand when her short-term plans to foster a white German Shepherd named Hank turned into something much more permanent.
Hank was living in an animal shelter when Kauffman’s friend Tiffany Ford found his picture online. Hank was evidently not thriving in the shelter, so Tiffany shared pictures of the dog with Kauffman, who took him in. She already had two dogs of her own and one other foster dog and was not looking for another permanent part of the family. But as Kauffman observed:
“When you get a new dog, they imprint pretty quickly. He would follow me around a lot, watch what I was doing. I knew we had a good bond, but at that point, I couldn’t predict he would do what he did.”
Hank needed some serious care, including treatment for heartworm. Someone else was supposed to end up adopting Hank permanently, and he was sent to a longer-term foster home. However, the six days Hank spent with Kauffman were all he needed to know where he belonged.
Hank was moved to the longer-term foster home in East Memphis, but one Sunday the foster returned home to find that Hank had unlocked the door and taken off. Kauffman later confirmed that this behavior was not uncommon for German Shepherds, an extremely intelligent breed, saying:
“It’s happened before. My last shepherd could lock and unlock the door. I’ve been locked out of my house a few times.”
Hank’s picture went out over social media, and soon enough sightings of the white Shepherd came in from across the Memphis area, citing all the neighborhoods Hank was traversing on his winding route: High Point, Sherwood Forest, Orange Mound… he was still finding his way, but definitely headed west.
After two days, Rachel Kauffman received a call from Nicole Young, who had come across Hank just blocks away from Kauffman’s home. “Rachel, I’m following Hank!” Young said. And sure enough, Hank was soon back where he clearly wanted to be – at Kauffman’s house. The journey clocked in at 10.96 miles.
“He traveled 11 miles to get back to me … I can’t fathom how he traveled that far across town that fast to get back to me. When it’s meant to be, it’s meant to be.”
The story of a pet traveling an impossible-sounding amount of miles and reuniting with their family is not a new one, but it is rare to see one like Hank and Rachel’s, which is so personal and specific. We usually hear about a dog trying to find their way back to their longtime family, but Hank had been waiting to find his family, and wasn’t about to waste any more time being apart.
Featured image via Commercial Appeal