Surviving an avalanche, six days trapped under snow and finding your way home seems like a feat beyond that of Bear Grylls, but is the story of one hardy and determined dog in Iceland this week.
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Þota, a one-year-old border collie from the Snæfellsnes Peninsula, disappeared last Saturday on her morning run around Hallkelsstaðarhlíð farm. With the recent heavy snows, owners Sigrún Ólafsdóttir and Skúli Skúlason grew increasingly worried the longer they searched for her and soon began to fear the worst.
Neighbours were alerted, posts were put on social media, a four-wheel-drive buggy was enlisted to plumb the surrounding landscapes, and even a drone was flown over the area, but to no avail. Within a few days, it was all but certain that Iceland’s winter had, in one way or another, claimed Þota.
Sigrún was therefore as shocked as she was delighted when she received a call from her son on Saturday morning, six days after her beloved pet’s disappearance, to tell her a familiar face had returned to the farm.
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Þota was, of course, worse for wear, being much thinner than she had been a week before and visibly exhausted as she dragged herself home, but against all the odds, she was alive. As soon as she was inside being cared for, her owners, curious to know where on earth she had been, followed her tracks in the fresh snow to their source.
What they discovered almost defied belief; in the enormous mound of ice a recent avalanche had created, there was an opening just Þota’s size. After being crushed by this great force of nature, the resilient animal had managed, over nearly a week, to dig herself a tunnel away from the mountains and out to freedom.
Now eating well and recovering in the warmth of her family home, Þota’s name has been amended in light of her survival story to Snjóþota. This translates to ‘toboggan’, or ‘snow- jet’, honouring her incredible endurance and heroism against the forces of Iceland’s winter.