Pet owners are used to their little friends enjoying playing follow-the-leader with them. But what happens when they turn around expecting their little tails, only to find them gone, and they’re nowhere to be found? This was what happened to an Illinois couple on their boating trip when they couldn’t find their dog anywhere on board.
We have GREAT NEWS!!! IT IS CONFIRMED: RYLEE IS FOUND!! She is now with her owners again… We will have details to…
Edward and Kristin Casas were celebrating their 29th anniversary with their beloved dog Rylee on Lake Michigan. The trio left Frankfort Harbor and were heading toward Manitou Islands when an incident, which almost had them regret taking Rylee on the trip with them, occurred.
Six miles out, they encountered an electrical issue. While Edward was in the engine room on the phone with the mechanics, Kristin was up on the top of the boat assisting with the repair. Both assumed Rylee was with the other spouse.
— ABC News (@ABC) August 31, 2016
However, 10 minutes later, they realized just how wrong their assumptions were. After a thorough search of the boat and eye search on the lake and still no sight of Rylee, Edward sent out a “dog-overboard call” on the radio.
“Our hearts just sank,” Edward told ABC News.
Luckily, 30 minutes after the call was broadcast, a local fisherman’s wife, Lynn Fiedor, got in touch with Edward via phone. It turned out Fiedor runs the Lost Dog Search Team, a local volunteer-based group that helps reunite lost dogs with their families.
HOMEWARD BOUND: After falling overboard, a dog reportedly swam 6 miles and traveled more than 12 miles on land to reunite with his owners. Welcome home, Riley!
After many calls to local sheriff offices, park rangers, and even a Facebook post that received more than 20,000 views, Rylee was spotted near the Platte River Campground the following morning after her disappearance. Fiedor directed Edward and Kristin to mark their scent around the truck they borrowed for transportation and to lie down with Rylee’s food and toys.
A short while later, as Edward was squeaking one of Rylee’s favorite toys, the excited Rylee jumped out of the woods and leapt into the arms of the people she had been yearning for.
Throughout the search, Fiedor was very optimistic about Rylee’s case after learning that she was a Belgian malinois, a breed known for their intelligence and strength; even the White House uses them as guard dogs. Furthermore, Rylee was training to be a search-and-rescue dog, which also greatly increased her chance of survival.
Here’s a look at Rylee’s one-day journey away from her family. Kristin speculated that Rylee fell overboard while trying to follow her up to the drive controls by climbing the tower ladder. The dog hadn’t learned how to climb ladders yet.
Before she was spotted at the campgrounds, another man named, Brad Price, tried to help Rylee without success. He spotted her swimming in the water, heading toward the boats in her sight, wanting to check if they were Edward and Kristin. Although he tried to help her, Rylee jumped out of his boat and ran off. The only thing on her mind was to hurry back to her owners.
— NBC Chicago (@nbcchicago) August 31, 2016
Not only did Rylee swim 6 miles to shore, she also ended up walking another 12 miles to the campgrounds where she was finally reunited with her family.
When the couple had a chance to calm down and recall what happened, the ordeal brought tears to their eyes. “Let me tell you, I’m not the kind of guy that cries but oh did this make me cry,” Edward said to ABC News. “I am so proud of this dog and so proud of and grateful for Lynn [Fiedor].” Kristin concurred, “Lynn is truly an angel walking on Earth with us—heart of gold, tenacity, relentless, loving and determined. … Just like Rylee!”
“We have a happy ending,” Fiedor told WPBN. “And it’s the reason we do what we do.” Rylee’s rescue was successful due to both the dog’s perseverance to find her owners and Fiedor’s willingness to help with the search, working in conjunction toward a happy ending.
Thumbnail Credit: YouTube Screenshot | Associated Press