Two weeks have passed since 7-year-old Axle, a blue heeler belonging to Marble Falls resident Joe Koury, traveled miles and miles to get home.
“I wish he would have stayed home and not proven to us how amazing he is,” laughed Joe’s fiancee, Leslie Robinson. “He has no idea he did anything wrong.”
Axle’s trek started the night of Friday, Sept. 11, when he was taken to Joe’s mother’s home in Spicewood. Joe was traveling to a motorcycle race in Alabama and invited Robinson to join him. She declined, opting to spend the weekend with her family in Round Rock, where she could plan for the wedding and have a dress fitting.
Meanwhile, to say Axle was homesick is an understatement, because once he was in the backyard in Spicewood, he decided it was time head back home to Singleton Bend Road.
Shortly after Axle started his journey home, Leslie received a message that he was gone. She immediately contacted Joe. His reaction reassured her, she said.
“This was my first weekend in the area, and he disappears,” she said. “Joe was confident he would come home. It helped that Joe was pretty confident.”
That’s because this wasn’t the first time Axle wanted to be home so badly he took off. Joe and Axle were in the Turkey Bend area a couple of years ago when someone set off fireworks.
“Axle was terrified, so he took off and ran home,” Leslie said. “He ran about 10 or 15 miles. So when this happened, Joe said, ‘He’ll find his way home.’”
This journey, however, was much longer and more challenging.
Joe and Leslie say Axle swam across Lake Travis, traveled through Jonestown and Lago Vista, and finally found his way to their house on the morning of Sunday, Sept. 13.
Social media reports tracked his progress.
“That Friday night, there were a ton of people looking for him,” Leslie said. “People kept seeing him, and I thought, ‘Somebody is going to get him.’”
Some even offered photographic proof of a sighting. A ranch family sent the couple a picture of a “dog-like animal seen on our (game) cameras.”
“They said they saw much bigger, more dangerous animals,” Leslie recalled. “She sent pictures of a hog, coyotes, and they saw a mountain lion. Axle’s not a big guy.”
She and her dog, Olivia, searched the area where Axle was last spotted, visualizing a trail they thought the dog would travel.
“(Olivia) has a better nose than I do,” Leslie joked. “We spent 10 hours hiking around, looking for him.”
A friend offered to use a spotlight by boat along the shores of Lake Travis, Jonestown, and Cow Creek. They hunted for hours and gave up at 3:30 a.m. Sunday. There was nothing left for Leslie to do but return to the couple’s home.
When she awoke later that morning, Leslie grabbed a cup of coffee and went to the porch. A neighbor, who knew Axle was gone, came over to get the latest news. As he entered the couple’s property, Leslie asked him, “Did you have Axle this whole time?”
There he was, sitting behind the neighbor looking like nothing had happened.
Leslie said Axle spent the rest of the day sleeping.
“(We’re) definitely relieved and happy, of course,” she said. “It’s impressive that he found his way. I’m sure he was looking for his dad. He’s known Joe much longer. Their bond is awesome. It’s incredible how deep that goes.”