The aptly named Apollo was clearly on a mission.
The 11-year-old Great Pyrenees-St. Bernard mix made his way from Jacksonville, FL, all the way to Swansea, MA — more than 1,000 miles away. He was recently reunited with his Florida family after being missing more than a month.
“Oh, gosh, if I had been in his head and his eyes — I would have loved to know what he went through,” said Cynthia Abercrombie, Apollo’s owner, told the Boston Globe.
She said Apollo went missing back on August 11, theorizing that slipped through a hole in the fence on her 1-acre property as it’s something he’s done in the past. Usually, though, the old, set-in-his-ways dog would end up in predictable places. But this time he didn’t come back.
“Whenever he gets out of the fence line, he only goes down to the end of the road. He hasn’t ventured anywhere,” she said. Time passed, she worried, but she never gave up hope.
“I knew he was alive still, but I had no idea where he was at,” she said. “I didn’t have that sinking feeling that he was completely gone. I knew something was wrong.”
Remembering at last that her dog had been microchipped a while back, she found the old paperwork and had the chip reactivated, and on Sept. 9 got the phone call she’d been hoping for — but from a place she never expected!
“I was speechless. I was shocked,” Abercrombie said when she realized Apollo was in Massachusetts.
Lisa White, an animal control officer in Swansea, said when officers found Apollo on Sept. 8, they assumed the dog was from the area, but once they got his microchip info they realized he’d come a long way indeed.
“It’s strange,” said White. “We thought maybe [Abercrombie] was up here visiting, and he got loose. When we called her, we said, ‘We Have Apollo here at the shelter.’ And she said, ‘Where are you calling from?’”
White said it took Apollo’s owner a minute to process how far her dog had traveled.
“Her next words were, ‘How the heck did he get up there?’” said White.
The answer remains a mystery. They’ve theorized that he may have been picked up by a motorist along the way, then either got loose again or was abandoned.
“Had she not had her dog microchipped, and kept the information current, she never would have found him again,” said White. “She wouldn’t have thought to look in Massachusetts, and we wouldn’t have thought to look down in Florida.”
Getting Apollo home was a challenge, but the Swansea shelter’s Facebook post caught the attention of East Coast Paws Transport, a non-profit that works with shelters to ship pets with the help of volunteer drivers. They volunteered to help.
“If it hadn’t been for East Coast, I would not have been able to get him back,” Abercrombie said. “It took him a while to realize he was home. Once his tail wagged, you could tell he knew he was with us.”
The hole in her fence has since been fixed.