FAIRBANKS — Eleven-year-old Madera, a Labrador retriever, had the odds against her when she wandered away from her Ester home in the midst of a cold snap earlier this month.
Madera is completely blind because of an autoimmune disease, and the temperature was 40 below, said her owner, Ed Davis. Usually when it’s really cold out, she wants to come inside immediately after relieving herself. But for some reason, Madera ventured farther away when his wife let her out on Feb. 6.
Davis was at work at Pump Station 4 of the trans-Alaska oil pipeline when Madera went missing. He came back to Fairbanks on Feb. 19 without much expectation of finding his dog.
“My best hope was to walk those trails and look for a track that might be hers,” he said. “My best hope was to find a frozen dog.”
Davis expects he never would have found Madera if Constantine Khrulev hadn’t been out on the trails last week, riding a fat bike and accompanied by his own dog, which was wearing a bell.
The bell-wearing dog made the difference, Davis said. Madera, responding to the bell, let out a whine as the dog ran by. Khrulev went into the woods and found her under a tree, more than 100 yards from the trail and about half a mile from Davis’ house.
“She was not going to be found accidentally,” Davis said.
Khrulev took Madera to one of Davis’ neighbors. The dog had lost about 14 pounds but was otherwise in good health, Davis said. Her rescuer asked for the $100 reward money to go the the Fairbanks Animal Shelter Fund, a gesture that so impressed Davis that he decided to increase the donation to $250.
The recovery wasn’t the only Fairbanks rescue of a blind dog in recent years. In December 2012, a blind 8-year-old dog named Abby walked more than 10 miles from her Two River area home before she was recovered.
Contact outdoors editor Sam Friedman at 459-7545. Follow him on Twitter: @FDNMoutdoors