Newly adopted rescue dog escapes owner, walks 64km across Northern Ireland to old home

A rescue dog is home safe after escaping from his new owner and walking 64 kilometres across Northern Ireland back to his old home. 

The golden retriever named Cooper was recently adopted by photographer Nigel Flemming to keep his dog Molly company. Cooper was surrendered to the pound along with his brother George. 

Flemming told Belfast Live he wanted to take George as well but couldn't manage three dogs. 

He decided just to adopt Cooper and took him home on April 1. 

A few hours after bringing Cooper home, Flemming took him and Molly for a walk. But the second he opened his car door, Cooper bolted and wasn't seen again for 27 days. 

Cooper allegedly travelled 64 kilometres from his new home in Dungannon to Cookstown to Magherafelt and finally to Tobermore where he had lived as a puppy.  

Flemming told Belfast Live Cooper is now eating small meals to build up his strength and gain some weight. 

"He's safe now, he is eating small meals to build up his strength and put some weight back on slowly - he has lost a lot of weight and he desperately needs a warm bath, but that can wait until he is stronger," he said. 

"Hopefully now he is home for good but I've some added precautions in place if he ever feels the need to bolt again. He has been through a lot."

A spokesperson for Lost Paws Northern Ireland, which helped find Cooper, said he is a "clever boy" and his instincts took him back to somewhere he was familiar with. 

"How he did it, I'll never know but he managed it. No food, no shelter, no help, just dogged determination and that incredible nose," the spokesperson told Belfast Live. 

"We had searches in place, day and night and we had tracked him back to a spot where we lost him again but now we know he was almost back in the area where he'd started before he was given to the dog pound. It seems incredible that he was able to do this - but dogs are incredible and that's why we work so hard to help them every day."