|Sophie Tucker apparently survived for four months on two remote islands by eating goats.|
Castaway canine reunited with family
SYDNEY - A pet dog swept off a sailboat in choppy seas off Australia was found alive four months later on a remote island - and was returned to her family, who thought she was dead.
The 4-year-old blue heeler, named Sophie Tucker, was captured by rangers last week on St. Bees Island in northern Queensland state, nearly 6 miles from where she was washed off the sailboat last November, owner Jan Griffith said.
Rangers initially thought they had captured a wild dog, but friends who heard about the canine contacted Griffith and suggested it might be Sophie.
Last Tuesday, Griffith and her husband met the rangers' boat as it arrived back on the mainland and were shocked to find their long-lost pet on board.
"We called the dog and she started whimpering and banging the cage and they let her out and she just about flattened us," Griffith said Monday. "She wriggled around like a mad thing."
The dog had been spotted by people on both St. Bees and nearby Keswick Island, leading Griffith to believe she swam back and forth between the two.
Queensland wildlife official Steve Fisher told Monday's Daily Mercury newspaper that three rangers trapped Sophie in a cage, using dog food as bait.
Sophie appeared to have survived by eating goats, as rangers found several baby goat carcasses around the island, Griffith said. This week, the plucky pup was back to her usual diet of ground meat and dog biscuits.