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Dog lost overboard in Lake Michigan swims and walks for miles, finds family

Aug 31, 2016

These stories always amaze me. They're like a little window into a world we barely understand: how animals interpret and navigate the world around us.

Word of Rylee's feat is making the rounds as news agencies pick up on what happened over the weekend.

Rylee, a 10-month-old Belgian Malinois, was lost overboard in Lake Michigan this past Sunday.

Meghan Morelli of UpNorthLive reports Rylee's owners were on a boat about six miles offshore near the Manitou Islands when the boat ran into mechanical problems. They dog was not being watched as they looked into the problems.

More from UpNorthLive:

About ten minutes went by before Ed says he realized Rylee wasn't with him.

"We assumed she went overboard," Ed said.

Panic and fear soon took over. Rylee was nowhere to be seen in the water.

Ed says he made a 'Dog Overboard Call,' over the radio.

Several fishermen and even the Coast Guard in Frankfort helped the couple search for their pet for several hours, but no luck.

A message was posted on the Facebook group Lost Dog Search Team. Lynn Fiedor, who runs the group, said the post was seen by 20,000, which gave her hope for Rylee.

A day later, Fiedor said people reported seeing Rylee at a campground.

More from ABC News:

"A lady said she had seen the dog going into the Platte River Campground," Fiedor said. "It was amazing. She literally swam over six miles and walked over 12 miles more through the woods." ...

Just a little while after Edward started squeaking one of Rylee's favorite toys while laying on the ground, the pup emerged from woods and joyfully greeted at them, Fiedor said.

Edward told ABC News there "was a lot of sobbing and a lot of hugging."

The Associated Press published this video of Rylee's adventure:

How do dogs like Rylee do it?

A piece from Time Magazine explains that, no surprise, dogs rely on their keen sense of smell to make their way.

Dogs are also motivated to reunite with their owners. That's not the case, says Time, when it comes to cats:

A dog that travels a great distance to get home is likely trying to return to its owner, since the dog-human bond is a powerful one. A cat that travels the same distance is — sorry cat owners — probably just tying to return to its territory.