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The Incredible Journey

Todd and his owner Peter Loizou. (Photo: BBC News)

Peter Loizou and his black Labrador Retriever, Todd, were enjoying a beautiful summer day on their boat on the southern coast of England to Cowes near the Isle of Wight. Suddenly the waters began to get choppy so Peter put his canine companion below deck. Once the waters calmed down, he went below to check on Todd. The Lab was not wearing his normal orange life jacket and sadly had been swept into the sea.

Peter searched frantically for his beloved pet. He sent messages out to other boaters to be on the lookout for his black Lab. He searched for four hours until the darkness forced him to quit. Sadly he returned home with thoughts of never seeing Todd again; however, Todd had other ideas.

Although he had been swept into the sea, Todd was determined to return to Peter and his home. Instead of swimming just one mile to the Isle of Wight, Todd's instincts took him on a more direct but much longer route to his home. The canine fought the choppy waters, swam against the current and had to dodge ferries, tankers, ocean liners and yachts to cross the Solent, one of the busiest waterways in the area. Once he crossed the Solent, he altered his course and swam up a stretch of the River Beaulieu to land about six miles from his home.

The exhausted Lab was found on a beach near Beaulieu by a teenager and his grandfather and was taken to a local veterinary surgeon who was able to identify him by his microchip. Ten hours after being swept overboard, Todd was reunited with his owner. "I was astonished and delighted. I couldn't believe he had swum all that way. Todd is a very fit dog and a very good swimmer, but this was just amazing," said Peter. "I always take him on my motor cruiser and he loves the sea air and standing on the front of the deck where he gets splashed. I usually make him wear a special orange lifejacket but it was hot on this occasion so I took it off."

Because of his diligence in finding his way home, Todd was nominated for the Golden Bonio Award which is Britain's award for canine bravery and devotion. Out of over 300 entries, Todd was voted into the top 12.

Peter realizes that it was a miracle that Todd survived, but understands that his dog is very fit. He and Todd do a lot of charity runs and half marathons and says that the Lab is a working gun dog. Never wanting this to happen again, Peter says that he will make sure that Todd always wears his life jacket and urges other boaters with pets to do the same.