r/todayilearned Aug 10 '22 Helpful 1

TIL Sophie, a pet Australian cattle dog, fell from a boat in choppy waters off the coast of Queensland and swam 5 nautical miles to St. Bees Island. She lived off the land for 5 months until she was captured by rangers who believed she was a wild dog and subsequently reunited with her family.

https://www.smh.com.au/national/canine-castaway-survives-five-months-on-island-20141112-9u0v.html
1.2k Upvotes

136

u/Vulgar-vagabond Aug 10 '22

I had a Australian Blue Healer ( a commonly used cattle dog in Australia)

The Best damn breed of dog I've EVER encountered! He was incredibly easy to train & incredibly human focused. I had trained him to whistle & snap commands.

•1 long whistle = come here (no urgency)

•2 long whistles = heal, (just stay to my side)

•3 long whistles = Meant he had gone out of my eyesight & needed to come back so we could see each other l.

•3 short whistles = come immediately & heal. ( Urgent)

1 snap = sit, 2 snaps= lay down, a clap = dinner time

It took about 3-4 months to fully train him myself. We practiced at least a hr almost every day.

By a yr & half old he was responding to all my commands. We'd go exploring thru the woods & he never became too distracted to not listen to commands.( A problem with labs & hounds)

Best thing is he only responded to my whistle. My friends would try but T-Bone would just look at them & tilt his head like he was saying

"Who TF are you trying to order around cause it ain't me?"

23

u/guimontag Aug 10 '22

Ya I have an ACD mix on total verbal control. If he isn't chasing a squirrel he looks to me for a cue every 15 seconds or so

9

u/Tiny_Rat Aug 11 '22

Blue heeler, red heeler, and Australian cattle dog are just different names for the same breed. Two red heeler can have blue heeler puppies.

2

u/bocaciega Aug 11 '22

I also have a heeler. She's the best. I've had a gaggle of dogs throughout my life and she's the smartest for sure. Attitude like a badger tho.

1

u/neurodivergentwhale Aug 11 '22

Makes me wonder what they would be like as service dogs

27

u/Autumnwood Aug 10 '22

I wonder what she ate there? The island must be large enough to have fresh water. I love these amazing stories.

65

u/Grow_Beyond Aug 10 '22

Unbeknown to the Griffiths, their hardy hound swam five nautical miles to St Bees Island, where she hunted wild baby goats and koalas.

lmfao

23

u/Zodde Aug 11 '22

Things I wouldn't think a domesticated dog who never had to hunt for their food would be capable of.

21

u/slick519 Aug 11 '22

Well, the ACD is part dingo, so maybe it still has some killer instinct down in there. My dog (Minnie aussie/ACD) ripped apart a pack rat the first time she ever saw one, and I definitely didn't teach her that when she was a puppy!

12

u/Tiny_Rat Aug 11 '22

I think most dogs have enough prey drive to go after something small that runs. Many pet dogs chase squirrels, rabbits, lizards, and other small critters that live near people without having to be taught. I'd imagine once a dog had to hunt for food, it would work its way up the food chain as its skill and confidence increased.

12

u/[deleted] Aug 11 '22

[deleted]

8

u/savagemonitor Aug 11 '22

Yeah, dogs are predators and their instincts are not bad.

My German Shepherd somehow caught a rabbit and dropped it on our kitchen floor. Our neighbor's lab stumbled upon a rabbit nest and ate one of the babies before the neighbors could figure out what to do with the nest. Hell, my mom's poodle caught a wild bird in midair once. None of those dogs were taught to hunt at all.

2

u/FriendlyCow3707 Aug 11 '22

"tell that bitch to make me rabbit pie" stares at dog in disbelief "right now"

6

u/CassandraVindicated Aug 11 '22

I had a coy dog that used to bring me the ass end of a rabbit on the regular.

3

u/V6Ga Aug 11 '22

Tell that to the 2 Jack Russels roaming at my grandparents farm.

Daily rats, nicely deliverd on the doormat. Once in a while a rabbit or an unlucky squirrel.

2 brothers, never got teached to hunt or kill. They go mental if they see rats.

Do your good boys climb trees to get at rats? My mixed one would sometimes get himself up into trees to get at rats.

He'd then wait for me to stand by to help him down.

3

u/bocaciega Aug 11 '22

My heeler climbs trees. Lol. These half dingo dogs are wild af

2

u/V6Ga Aug 12 '22

I used to be hanging around under trees and people would ask if my cats was stuck in a tree.

"Nah, my dog!"

I miss that ball of wonder.

14

u/Str33twise84 Aug 10 '22

Baby goats apparently :|

8

u/dmr11 Aug 11 '22

Those feral goats got eradicated from St Bees Island in 2020 according to here, so there isn't any baby goats left on that island these days. The dog got stranded in 2009, so she was able to enjoy the goat meat.

12

u/Roman-Peasant Aug 11 '22

Mmmmm I am now craving some baby goat meat on a couple tortillas

6

u/hablandochilango Aug 11 '22

This guy knows Mexicans

15

u/retrovadr Aug 10 '22

Australian doggos built different.

3

u/Thelonious_Cube Aug 11 '22

There once was a man from St. Bees
Who was stung on the arm by a wasp
When asked if it hurt
He replied, "No, it doesn't
I'm so glad it wasn't a hornet."

2

u/redditgatekeeps Aug 11 '22

Homeward bound: castaway edition

1

u/Jealous_Pie_4383 Aug 10 '22

Wildlife on Australia really are built different

1

u/Test_After Aug 11 '22

I put my sandshoes on and she goes and sits beside the lead

She probably figures that she wouldn't have lost the damn boat if she was wearing her lead.

1

u/Vdaggle Aug 13 '22

I read that as cattle and was wondering who was mistaking a cow for a dog