A dog ran a mile to her doggy day care for help after a car crash

Melissa Fickel was driving to a park near Detroit with her dog, Aries, when another car hit her from behind as the stoplight turned green.

To her shock, Aries got spooked and jumped out of the open rear window.

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“I was surprised when she jumped out because she’d never done anything like that before,” said Fickel, 31, recalling the afternoon of Feb. 24.

Fickel, who said nobody was injured in the accident, quickly looked around for Aries and was relieved to see her sitting on the side of busy Rochester Road in Clawson, Mich.

“As soon as she saw me, she turned and took off,” Fickel said. “I was in the middle of the road, and I couldn’t run after her.”

Fickel called out to Aries, but she kept running and was soon out of sight.

Fickel pulled over her car, and did a quick search around some buildings where she had last caught sight of her 4-year-old, pit bull lab mix pup.

Then police showed up, and she told an officer her dog ran off.

“I couldn’t find her, and I had to deal with talking to police and my insurance company, so I decided to take it one step at time,” she said, explaining that the damage to the cars was minor.

The officer phoned in a description to a dispatcher so other officers could look for Aries, she said.

Then, about 20 minutes after the accident, Fickel received a text and a call from Travis Ogden, the owner of Hounds Town Metro Detroit - the doggy day care that Aries goes to once a week.

Ogden gave Fickel some stunning news: Aries was with him at the doggy day care, one mile up the road.

“I started crying,” said Fickel, who shared her story with WXYZ Detroit news.

Ogden said a staffer in the front office had noticed the dog pacing and jumping up and down outside the front glass door.

“She’d run straight to her safe spot and was trying to attract their attention,” Fickel said.

Ogden said he let Aries inside, and the pooch ran over to him and licked his face.

“I love that dog and knew immediately it was her,” he said, noting that Aries has been a regular at Hounds Town for about three years. “She’s a really social dog who is always ready to play and have fun with the other pups.”

He was puzzled to see Aries without Fickel, but when he learned about the accident, it started to make sense, he said.

“Dogs are really smart and know their routes,” said Ogden, who has about 45 dogs at a time at the day care. “They’re constantly looking out the window.”

Studies have shown that dogs have extraordinary sensory abilities that could allow them to pick up on the north-south flow of the planet’s magnetic field. Stories about dogs that have gone missing and found their way home suggest they have an internal compass.

Last year, a golden retriever in Ireland walked 40 miles over 26 days to find his owner, and a dog in Texas rang the doorbell at her former shelter after she was adopted and became lost. In 2020, a dog missing for three weeks turned up at the Walmart register where her owner was working.

Ogden said Aries probably fled the accident scene out of fear, hoping to get somewhere where she could feel calm and safe.

“Aries heard a loud noise, and that was a big shake to her world,” he said. “She was running to get the heck out of there and get back to where her friends are, where she could find somebody to help.”

Aries was given some water after her sprint, and staffers played with her in the lobby until Fickel could pick her up.

“So many things could have gone wrong because she had to cross a busy four-lane road to get to the doggy day care,” she said. “I was really thankful to learn she was safe in a place she loves.”

Fickel said her dog wasn’t wearing a car harness during the accident, but after what happened, she plans to put Aries in one in the future.

She said it was love at first sight when she adopted Aries as an 8-week-old puppy in April 2020.

“She’s always had a lot of energy and loves to play tug of war and solve puzzles with treats in them,” she said. “Then when she’s all tired out, she likes to lounge with me on the couch.”

When she took Aries home after her unexpected adventure, she said she felt the stress and panic of the day melt away.

“I petted her a lot and told her she was a good dog,” she said. “And that night, she got a whole taco.”

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