It was still dark outside when Luna, a young German shepherd with a lifetime of boating experience, took her place in a small fishing vessel. Her owner, Nick Haworth, was a fisherman, and Luna always came along to help.
But on this morning, something happened that will always remain a mystery. In the shroud of darkness, Luna vanished — a moment that Haworth will never forget.
Perhaps Luna had gotten distracted by something and jumped overboard to investigate. Perhaps it was a misstep that sent her into the water, undetected by her humans who were busily preparing for a day’s work.
Whatever it was, Haworth searched desperately for his pup. She was a strong swimmer, and Haworth figured Luna would most likely have tried to swim to the nearby naval island off the coast of San Diego in southern California.
Haworth and a team of Navy personnel searched the island of San Clemente for days hoping to spot Luna, to no avail. Heartsick and weary, Haworth didn’t know what else to do but admit to himself that Luna wasn’t coming back.
“I was heartbroken,” Haworth confessed. “I didn’t know whether she was alive or dead, what to think.”
“It was really devastating to go from having this dog next to me every minute of my life to, all of a sudden, she’s gone in a flash,” Haworth continued.
Five weeks passed without any sign of his beloved dog.
And then, one March day, Navy staff noticed what appeared to be a domesticated dog sitting alongside a road on the island of San Clemente. Since the island is home only to native wildlife, staff immediately knew the dog didn’t belong and wondered if it was a shipwrecked Luna.
Luna greeted the Navy personnel, who said the dog appeared to be a little malnourished, but was otherwise in good spirits. It wasn’t long before Haworth received a phone call that brought him to tears.
“I was in awe — pure disbelief at first,” Haworth recalled. “Then I had to see a picture of her. I was like, ‘I have to make sure (it’s my dog). When I saw (that it was Luna), I was overwhelmed with joy. Probably the happiest I’ve ever been in my entire life.”
Haworth is forever grateful to the Navy officials who helped bring Luna home. He now outfits Luna in a lifejacket with reflective material whenever they are at sea, determined not to lose his best friend ever again.
“I’m not a guy of many emotions but, man, this had me stirred up,” Haworth admitted. “This had me in tears. It’s a beautiful thing to get my dog back.”
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