This Dog's Life

A Labrador Overcomes 25-Foot Seas and Sub-Zero Temps

Sep 1, 2004
Outside Magazine

On January 22, 2004, 48-year-old beach logger and dog breeder Greg Clark was motoring to the village of Craig, in southeastern Alaska, in his 32-foot boat, Katrina, on his way to deliver a two-month-old Labrador puppy. As always, Brick, Clark's good-tempered eight-year-old black Lab, rode along. At 12:23 p.m., Clark sent out an SOS distress call, saying he'd struck rocks near Heceta Island. But by the time help arrived, the boat had disappeared. For three days, searchers combed the area for signs of Clark and his dogs, turning up only an unused survival suit and pieces of boat wreckage.

A month later, on February 19, local fisherman Kevin Dau was out with his father off Heceta Island when the older Dau thought he spotted a wolf on shore. Kevin, a friend of Clark's, took one look and knew it was Brick. He called for the dog, and Brick swam so fast to the boat that "there was a wake coming off of him," Kevin told a newspaper at the time. Brick's fur was matted with tree sap, he was thin, and he'd injured his leg, but otherwise he was in good condition. Locals were stunned that the dog had survived, and speculated how. Had he eaten ground squirrels? Found an unfrozen stream? Slept under bushes for warmth in the sub-zero temperatures? No one knows but Brick, who is now safely ensconced in a new home.

"I feel like it's a message from Greg, saying who knows what," John Pugh, a friend of Clark's, told a reporter at the time. "I haven't quite figured it out, but it is a miracle, that's for sure."