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Luigi the dog defies the odds, returns home safe after 29 days

The six-year-old dog got lost in the BWCA in June during a camping trip.
Credit: Zane Burnette

MINNEAPOLIS — This is a story of survival that played out in the vast forests of the Boundary Waters.

For 29 days, a 6-year-old dog named Luigi overcame all odds with barely a scratch on him. He reunited with his owner, Zane Brunette, Monday.

It's a reunion Brunette wasn't sure would happen after he says Luigi was lured away from their group on the first day of their camping trip last month.

Brunette says he encountered a group of suspicious people near the popular Sawbill Trail connecting two lakes. 

"I think they wanted him," said Brunette about the dog. "I think they were going to keep him."

Brunette is convinced they lured Luigi away and he realized his dog was lost too late. 

"I found like the highest point and was yelling out and I could hear my voice cracking back to me and I knew we weren't going to find him out there," said Brunette. "But I was just completely in shock so I just kept going."

They set-up camp there for several more days, but it was missing dog fliers that Brunette posted around the North Shore that he believes helped bring his best friend home.

He got a call from a resort owner who spotted the dog on Sunday, some 45 miles from where Luigi was last seen.

"I was like, if it is him, can I come right away," recalled Brunette. " Then I called him and he comes right into my arms and I just picked him up and held him."

Burnette can't believe Luigi escaped without any burs, ticks or real scratches. 

He is, though, still about 15 pounds underweight that Brunette says he's building back slowly - nothing a few treats and the comforts of home can't fix. 

"He's like the friendliest dog I've ever seen my entire life," said Brunette. "He's just very, very special."

Brunette thinks Luigi either escaped the thieves or they dumped him not too long ago after seeing the missing dog fliers. 

Either way, he's thankful a vet gave Luigi a clean bill of health and for everyone who shared the fliers. Brunette is now holding an open house for friends and family to visit Luigi and give him some well-deserved pets. 

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