A senior dog is enjoying a happy homecoming after quite an ordeal.
Stella, a 13-year-old golden retriever, survived an astonishing 65 days alone in the Alaska wilderness after she went missing in July. Her family located the pet last month, and the beloved pup is now recovering with her loved ones.
Stella’s adventure began just after July 4 when she was hanging out with her family — Sarah and Jerome Mahoskey and kids Kai and Quinn — on the back deck of their Sitka home, according to local news outlet KCAW. A sudden burst of fireworks startled the dog and sent her running into the woods.
The Mahoskeys searched until nightfall but had no luck finding Stella. The next morning, when she still hadn’t returned, they grew concerned — especially after a neighbor told them about a bear attack in the neighborhood.
“They said, ‘Did you hear that there was a bear that attacked a dog last night? We had the windows open in the back of the house, and my wife heard this altercation that sent chills up her spine. And basically, I don’t think your dog could be alive,'” Sarah recalled to KCAW.
However, the Mahoskeys held onto hope that Stella was still out there somewhere. Throughout the summer, they regularly hiked the trails near where the golden retriever went missing and followed up on every potential Stella sighting reported by community members.
Then, in early September, the family received a phone call from Tim Eddy, a friend of Jerome’s working in the quarry.
“He said, ‘Do you have a golden retriever?’ And Jerome said, ‘Well, we did have a golden retriever.’ And he says, ‘Well, I think this is your golden retriever,'” Sarah explained.
Jerome drove a four-wheeler over to the site and soon spotted Stella.
“She was on this cliffside, and it was basically this ash and rock that was the same exact color as her,” Sarah said. “She totally blended in. The fact that Tim saw her — I just kept saying to him, ‘How did you see her?’ “
The Mahoskeys don’t believe their dog was at the quarry for long, considering the scarcity of food and water, but suspect the mine was familiar to Stella because she grew up around Jerome’s excavation business.
After over two months away from home, Stella was down to 30 pounds — nearly half her body weight. Sarah said she likely subsisted by foraging. “She has always picked her own berries when we are out hiking,” the pet parent explained. “And she loves dandelion roots.”
The retriever also had a wide gash against her left side, which the Mahoskeys believed could have been from a bear.
In an incredible twist, this wasn’t the first time Stella was part of a remarkable survival story. In 2015, shortly after the Mahoskeys adopted her, Stella was inside Jermone’s truck when heavy rains triggered a landslide that crushed the vehicle.
Jerome assumed the worst at the time, but just as rescuers were about to suspend their search due to unsafe conditions, they pulled Stella from the landslide debris.
Following her latest ordeal, Stella is already on the mend and has regained 11 pounds since her return.
Stella is not the first senior golden retriever to survive an accidental foray in the Alaskan wilderness. In 2022, a blind golden retriever survived three weeks in the woods before reuniting with her family.