After an 11-Mile Journey, a Lost Dog Finds His Way Back to His Foster Mom
Julia Fawal 2 hrs ago
(© Rachel Kaufmann) Rachel and Hank reacquaint themselves.
It's impossible to predict when the right person – or in this case, the right pup – will stumble into our lives, but when it's meant to be, it's meant to be. Rachel Kauffman, a 23-year-old vet tech in Memphis, Tennessee, learned this heartwarming lesson after spending only six days with Hank, a foster dog who wasn't quite ready to say goodbye to her.
Rachel had no intentions of taking care of another dog (she already had two of her own plus another foster), but when she saw Hank at a local shelter, she knew he couldn't stay there. "He looked so pitiful and scared. He hardly let me touch him, and you could count his ribs," she said. The plan was for Hank to spend a few days with Rachel before moving onto a long-term foster home across town.
© Rachel Kauffman
From the start, Hank, a white German Sheppard who is around four years old, was very timid, keeping his distance when Rachel tried to comfort him and introduce him to her other dogs. "It was clear he had never been in a home before," she said. "But that's why we named him Hank. We wanted to give him a sturdy, commanding name."
Six days after bringing Hank home, Rachel gave him to a friend who took him to his official foster parent. As they parted ways, Hank kissed Rachel's face-the only sign of affection he had ever showed her. It was hard to say goodbye, but Rachel knew it was for the best. "I had come to terms with it. I knew he was going onto better things."
© Rachel Kauffman
But two days later, Rachel received a text from Hank's new owner. Hank had unlocked the door and escaped. "I panicked. He was in a completely new area, one he had never seen before," Rachel said. She immediately rallied her fellow dog-loving troops across the city, posting all over Facebook and Nextdoor.com. Tips started pouring in from different Hank sightings, but some contradicted each other, and no one had photographic evidence.
"It was discouraging, and he's not the kind of dog who would run up to humans. I didn't think he'd even come up to me if he saw me," Rachel told WomansDay.com.
Hank had been gone for two days, and leads were running Rachel in circles. While she was driving out to East Memphis after receiving another tip, she received a call from her friend, Nicole. "Rachel. I'm following Hank," she said.
Rachel turned her car around and sped down the interstate to meet Nicole. That's when she realized – Hank had turned down the street Rachel lived on. She slowly pulled into her driveway, and there he was, standing at her side entrance pawing at her door. When Rachel got out of the car, he looked up at her weirdly, and then suddenly he jumped up, his tale wagging frantically as he gave her a massive hug.
© Rachel Kauffman
"I have no idea how he found me!" she said. "He traveled 11 miles to get back here. I can't believe he did it." Rachel felt she had no choice but to keep him, of course.
Now, Hank acts like he never left. He still takes time to warm up to people, but he knows where the toys are in the house, and he loves playing with the other dogs. He requires extensive training, and a pack of four dogs is a bit more than Rachel originally bargained for, but she says every second is worth it.
"Even if I tried to get rid of him, he'd keep coming back," she said. "It gives me chills just thinking about it. Maybe I am a good dog mom after all, but what truly matters is that Hank is safe. He is home."