(NEW YORK) — As John Dolan lay in a hospital bed at the Good Samaritan Medical Center in Islip, N.Y., last Thursday, he got a phone call he least expected.
A hospital employee, later identified as a man named Rick, told Dolan that he was standing outside the hospital with a white samoyed dog whose tag listed Dolan as the owner. The man told Dolan he needed to come pick up the dog because he was late for work.
Dolan, 46, said the dog was indeed his, but he couldn’t come right away because he was inside the hospital and his wife was asleep at their home, two miles away.
It was then that the two men wondered, how did Zander get so close to Dolan’s bedside, so many miles from home?
“It’s not nonsense that he was at the hospital,” Dolan, resting at home with Zander by his side, told ABC News today. “He was moping around for the days I was already at the hospital, sitting in my seat and rolled up and depressed. My wife said he had water in his eyes and looked like he was really sad.”
Zander is a 70-pound, approximately 7-year-old samoyed-husky mix that Dolan and his wife had rescued from a shelter five years ago who has a history of escaping.
Once Dolan reached his wife, Priscilla, they realized that Zander must have slipped out the back door of their Bay Shore home after Priscilla Dolan took their other two dogs, a red shepherd named Sheba and a chocolate lab named Penny, out earlier that morning.
Priscilla Dolan didn’t realize Zander was missing until she got her husband’s call for help. She drove to the hospital to meet Rick and pick up Zander.
The Dolan’s home is two miles from the hospital, but a “hard two miles,” according to Dolan, that includes a stream, a highway and tricky navigation through neighborhood streets.
The hospital is also in a direction where Zander had never gone on his previous escapes.
“For all I know he was on his way to Jersey,” Dolan joked. “He’s gotten out in the past, but never gone to that location or anywhere near it [the hospital].”
Dolan said that of the couple’s three dogs Zander, in particular, is known to stick by his owner’s side and has been even more loyal since his return.
He says an important lesson from his dog’s amazing journey is for dog owners to properly tag their pets so that all reunions can have the same happy endings as his and Zander’s.
“It’s a cool story and uplifting,” Dolan said of his own tale. “Who knows how or why it happened.”
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio