Like many solo travellers, Len Simpson has come to increasingly rely on the company and security offered him by his dog.
With a bond forged by thousands of kilometres of adventures on the road together, it was absolutely devastating to Len then when his beloved pet, Jack, went missing.
Having started their travels in Tasmania, the pair were camping near the Great Northern Highway, 195 kilometres south of Broome, when the dog disappeared.
Jack was usually let out during the night for a toilet break, but always come back to the camp … but not this time.
“When he didn’t come back, I thought, ‘He’s just gone for a bit of a walk’,” Len told the ABC. “When I got up in the morning and he wasn’t back, I tried to track him in the scrub and, because it’s spinifex and pindan country, it’s quite easy to follow, so I followed him roughly six kilometres in the bush.”
After the first day, Len did not see any more of Jack’s tracks, so he used his old school compass to walk more than five kilometres every day in a new direction, meticulously searching the sand for Jack’s tracks.
The ABC reports that, after seven days, Len was just about to give up and head home when a missing dog post put up by his daughter, Karen, suddenly went viral.
Incredibly, a couple then saw Jack wandering near the Aboriginal community of Bidyadanga, and recognised him from the social media posts.
After the dog was picked up, vets in Broome were amazed he had survived seven days in the bush without food or water, and had also avoided other perils such as being bitten by a snake, or ingesting 1080 poison.
As for Len, he is just incredibly relieved, happy and grateful to have his travelling companion back.
“I was amazed that he was still alive,” Len told the ABC. “With the lack of water out there, I didn’t think there was much hope for him.”
Len and Jack will now continue their journey around WA together … but Jack’s night-time toilet trips will likely be a lot more closely supervised from here on in.