Barefoot Walkabout Brings Lost Dog Home

A five day search that led to no sign of her lost dog Charlie prompted Annika Schlemm’s mother to think outside the box – leading to a unusual solution that eventually brought her wandering friend home.

The 15 year old school girl feared she would never see her seven year old terrier again. She and her family put up posters and spent days scouring the countryside to no avail. As the fifth day of searching turned up no result, Annika’s mother Marie-Louise came up with an unusual if brilliant suggestion.

She told Annika to walk in areas where Charlie had last been sighted, and to walk home from there – while barefoot. She reasoned that Charlie would have a better chance of picking up a scent without shoes to get in the way, and that he might just follow the scent trail home.

Annika obliged, spending hours wandering the countryside, foot paths and country roads of a nearby town before making the five mile walk home, feet battered by her journey, a sore ankle acting up.

“Annoyingly I stepped in some nettles and one of my ankles really hurt, so at times I would hobble and limp down this country lane, probably looking extremely odd,” she said. “The thought that this was for Charlie and that this could finally get him home kept me going.”

Her determination paid off. The following day encouraging calls came in mentioning Charlie sightings in town. She went to bed that night exhausted after another day spent searching and yelling for Charlie repeatedly.

“The next morning, a week after he went missing, I woke up before my alarm and an impossible miracle happened. My dad opened the door and in tiptoed Charlie, with his tail wagging. He had got in through the cat flap. I gave him lots of cuddles and I must confess tears were in my eyes. I was just so happy. We haven’t lived in our house very long so I’m sure he wouldn’t have known the way home unless he had followed the scent trail.”

A creative act of love and desperation has reunited the family, who say they are now keeping a very close eye on the beloved dog they adopted from a shelter more than six years ago.

Life With Dogs post end paw print


  1. Janice Holladay says on  04/21/2011 at 11:06 am

    Perfect. The solution makes so much sense when you think about it. To dogs, especially smaller one, we must smell mostly like our feet. That’s why they love shoes I think. I’m just glad this had a happy ending.

  2. How I so love happy endings to these stories.

  3. The OP Pack says on  04/21/2011 at 3:07 pm

    Takes a Mom to come up with a solution like that:) Nice to have a happy ending.

    Woos ~ Phantom, Thunder, and Ciara

  4. Anna says on  04/21/2011 at 6:56 pm


  5. Mom was very smart. Dogs noses are very powerful but not enough to smell through shoes. I will have to let my two-legger know this, despite how careful we are in our house you never know when someone might bolt out a door or jump the fence and get out.

  6. Well, there was a Greyhound owner who lured his dog home by leaving a pee trail a few years ago, so walking barefoot ought to work!

  7. Great info! Keep up the great work on posts like this.

  8. SSB Pack says on  04/22/2011 at 2:22 am

    Mom, you are brilliant! and Charlie was a smart littler terrier as well.

    But of course all dogs have an amazing sense of smell so it stands to reason that if Charlie could pick up the scent of his owner, he might find his way home.

    Great story on the power of the canine nose!

  9. Rachel says on  04/22/2011 at 2:46 pm

    What a great idea! And a fairy tale ending! :-)

  10. Susan Cooper says on  04/23/2011 at 12:32 am

    I loved reading about how hard this girl tried to find her dog; willing to go through pain to do so. I am so glad they were happily reunited.

  11. I luv it. I think walking the trails, getting her scent all over was a great idea. I’m not sure about the bare feet though, but the important thing is Charlie is back!

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