Real-life stories of animals and their amazing bond with humans

Beethoven conducts his way through the snow


An extraordinary dog, called Beethoven, travelled over hundreds of miles of frozen countryside to make it home to his family in France. The year was 1998 and Beethoven, a five-year-old white spitz, was with his French family, who were enjoying a break in Avignon during the summer holidays. August was drawing to a close, however, and soon it was time for the family to return to their home far up in the north-east of France, close to the French-German border at Nomeny in the département of Meurthe-et-Moselle. There was just one snag, however: there was no sign of Beethoven.

The exuberant dog had given his owners the slip while out for a last walk, and now the pet was nowhere to be seen. The anxious family delayed their departure for as long as they could while they waited in vain for their beloved pet to appear. Finally they could wait no longer―they had work and college to return to, and so they reluctantly left Avignon and drove back to Nomeny in the near-certain knowledge they would never see their adorable Beethoven again.

Saint-Bénezet Bridge, known as Pont d’Avignon
The famous bridge at Avignon, the French city where Beethoven got lost.

Over the weeks the extreme heat of summer gave way to one of the coldest winters France had experienced in recent years: the rivers and lakes froze, and the snows came. Beethoven’s owners continued to mourn his loss, certain that the harshness of the winter meant their pet could not survive on his own. However, they had not reckoned on Beethoven’s indomitable will.

It appears that as soon as he had got lost during the summer, Beethoven had become disoriented by his unfamiliar surroundings. And that he had immeditely headed for the only place he knew he could find: the family home 500 miles away back in north-east France.

Day after day, Beethoven had padded through, the heat, the rain, and later the snow and ice. Finally, one extraordinary day in March the following year, Beethoven arrived at his home, having walked from close to the Mediterranean Sea all the way up the Rhône Valley near to the French border with Germany.

When he arrived home he was tired, hungry and thin. But as his overjoyed owners put it, Beethoven was full of ‘joie de vivre‘ at just being back in the place he had be seeking for so many miles and for so many months.


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