SAN DIEGO (AP) — Fishermen like to tell stories, but Nick Haworth will have a whopper of a tale.
The California man’s beloved dog, Luna, was found more than a month after she fell overboard in the Pacific Ocean and was presumed drowned.
The 1.5-year-old German shepherd mix was spotted March 15 on San Clemente Island, a Navy-owned training base 70 miles off San Diego.
The blue-eyed pup disappeared Feb. 10 as Haworth, a commercial fisherman from San Diego, worked on a boat 2 miles from the island.
“They were pulling in their traps, and one minute Luna was there, and the next minute she was gone,” said Sandy DeMunnik, spokeswoman for Naval Base Coronado. “They looked everywhere for her. They couldn’t see her. The water was dark, and she’s dark.”
Haworth notified Navy personnel.
“He insisted that he was 90 percent sure that she made it to shore because she was such a strong swimmer,” DeMunnik said.
Haworth searched the waters for about two days and Navy staff searched the island for about a week but found no sign of Luna.
She was presumed lost at sea. Until March 15, that is, when staff arriving for work at the island’s Naval Auxiliary Landing Field spotted something unusual — a dog sitting by the side of the road. Domestic animals aren’t allowed on the island for environmental reasons.
It was Luna.
“It looks like she was surviving on rodents and dead fish that had washed up,” DeMunnik said.
Officials called Haworth, who was out of state, working in the middle of a lake.
Luna was flown by the Navy from San Clemente to Naval Air Station North Island in Coronado on March 16 and handed over to Haworth’s best friend, who cared for the dog until Haworth returned the next night.
Luna, meanwhile, has a souvenir of the experience. Her dog tag was lost but the Navy gave her a new one, DeMunnik said.
The tag reads: “Keep the Faith.”