A black cat and a collie each travel hundreds of miles to get back home to their owners.

Lady the Collie in the middle of a forrest

Lady was lost in the woods

A black and orange cat eating food from small red bowls while a woman watches

Had Nova traveled 250 miles to Sue?


In May of 1992, the Riesgraf family went camping at Bear Head Lake State Park, Minnesota. According to Susan Riesgraf, they brought along their dogs, a collie named Lady, and Wolfka, a Belgian shepherd.

“It was springtime. Ice was coming off the lake. Green leaves were starting to bud out. And it was just a good time to take a break.”

Nova the black cat in her owners arms


The family had been to the cabin a couple of times. They felt perfectly safe letting the dogs out on their own. Normally, Lady and Wolfka returned within an hour. But this time they didn’t return at all. The next day, a forest fire erupted just a few miles southwest of the cabin. Flames were headed in their direction and they had to evacuate immediately.

The fire burned out of control for three days, consuming more than 9,000 acres. From their home in Duluth, 100 miles away, the Riesgrafs waited for news that the dogs had been found. John Riesgraf:

“We had called Susan’s father and I had asked him to go back to the cabin a few times because I thought they’d come back to the cabin. I thought that would be our best hope, but he had done that and not seen anything.”

Then, almost two weeks after Lady disappeared, a hungry, scruffy collie wandered up to a house on the outskirts of Duluth. Susan Riesgraf said she received a phone call:

“Out of the blue, some folks that were about 15 miles from our house called and said ‘Your dog’s in our yard.’ I said, ‘What?’ They said, ‘Your dog’s a collie. Her name is Lady. Is this the telephone number?’ I said, ‘Yes. Do you realize this dog has traveled a long way to get to your yard?’”

A plume of smoke coming out of a large forest fire

A forest fire raged

After 13 days apart, Lady was reunited with her family. When her amazing journey made headlines, several people called to tell the family they had seen the dog on her journey. A railroad worker had spotted the collie 30 miles from the cabin. About a week later, someone spotted the dog near an old logging trail, approximately 15 miles from Duluth. Altogether, Lady had traveled more than 150 miles. Susan Riesgraf said she has no doubt that Lady would have reached their house one way or another:

“She’s found her home and she’s there to stay. Since this long walk home, she stays home. It’s like she realized, too, this is my family, and we just appreciate her a whole lot more.”

The Riesgrafs never learned the fate of their other dog, Wolfka. They hope he was perhaps adopted by a caring stranger. Meanwhile, they continue to marvel at Lady’s return. But dogs aren’t the only pets that show this remarkable instinct.

Sue Anderson of Baltimore, Maryland, has been an animal lover for as long as she can remember. In the spring of 1992, she packed for a cross-country move. The last things she loaded were her most valued possessions: her five beloved cats:

“I had Puss and Cinderella and Woolly Booger and Nova and Stardust. They’re like children to me in a way, and I feel when I take on the responsibility of a pet, then that responsibility is mine until the pet dies.”

Sue traveled with her brother, who was also moving west. As for the cats, Sue said it was the first time they’d been farther from home than the local vet:

“I got Nova about four years ago. She was left outside of my apartment. She just kind of clung to me and got very attached to me, and ever since then, it’s been a very, very close relationship.”

A man in a plaid shirt walking up to a collie at a construction site

A collie was spotted 30 miles away

After 10 days on the road, Sue and her brother reached California. They stopped to rest for the night, 200 miles from Modesto, their final destination. They planned to sleep until daybreak before pushing on. Sue awoke to discover Nova was gone:

“I felt devastated. She was in a strange place, had never been here before. It scared me. I was worried about her survival.”

Sue said she and her brother searched for an hour without any luck:

“I was very, very anxious about her, very, very frightened for her, and very upset about the whole incident.”

When Sue told a co-worker about Nova, he gave her a picture of a black cat as a memento:

“People would stop by and always say, ‘Get real. She’s never going to come back. You’re just dreaming.’ I said, ‘Well, maybe one day she will.’ So I kept it up there the entire time that I was working there.”

A full year later, on July 16, 1993, Sue came across two stray cats outside of work. One resembled Nova. Could Nova have traveled 250 miles to find her? Sue Anderson thinks she did:

“She had a mole inside her ear. She had 5 or 6 distinguishing white hairs on her chest, and she let me look at her claws. I could identify her claws. All these things were adding up that this was indeed my cat.”

How do we explain Nova’s incredible journey? Noted animal behaviorist Miriam Yarden has a theory:

“She told me that she spent 10 to 12 hours at her place of work, and by thinking of the cat and seeing her own surroundings, subconsciously, she was sending the visual images to the cat; ‘Come to this area. Come to this place. This is where I am.’ Can I prove it? No. Anyone can disprove it? Probably not.”

Sue Anderson has said love is the key:

“I like to think that there’s enough of a bonding that if you really believe in your capacity to love and let that love be a kind of a guiding light, that they will use that love to get back to us when they want to and that’s a sort of communication in some way.”

Watch this case now on Amazon Prime in season six with Robert Stack and in season four with Dennis Farina. Also available on YouTube with Dennis Farina. Various seasons available now on Hulu.



  1. Herbert

    This lady finds some random cat and thinks it’s the same one


  2. ...

    Why did that little girl only pray for one dog? I always thought that was cruel of her. Poor Wolfka, I hope he found a family who actually cared about him.


    • Andrew

      I was just thinking the same thing. Also, I love that name, Wolfka. Sounds Russian.


    • Nicole

      Cruel? You do realize you’re talking about a child, right? She had probably bonded with Lady more. Do you think her not praying for Wolfka is why he didn’t return?


  3. John

    I am th father on unsolved mysteries episode Lady did make it home never found Wolfka


  4. Dawn

    What is the woman’s name that finds animals?


  5. Kate

    Lady must have been such a common name in the 80s/90s. My family dog growing up was named the same and I knew of several other dogs at the time named Lady too. I feel bad that Wolfka was never found 🙁 I hope she made it and was adopted by a family like the segment suggests.


  6. Kay

    Just saw this episode. Nova is a cool cat.


  7. Steve

    It’s just amazing how that the animals find their way back to their owners.


  8. Jackson Lau

    If you watch the episode and pay close attention, the common thread in both cases is both owners (the lady and the young girl) prayed with all their hearts daily.

    The Lord doesn’t always answer our prayers in the way we expect, but sometimes He does ;). Glad those two beloved animals made it back safely and has brought joy and comfort to their owners.


  9. Toni

    she was psychic and didn’t know it. when you operate in the vibration of pure love, you open yourself up to the highest realms where space and time doesn’t exist , just energy. I too can communicate with people and animals like this


  10. Ladyy

    They never found Wolfka. 🙁


  11. Robert Smith

    I wondered the same thing about Wolfka.


  12. Anonymous

    Did the family find out what happen to the other dog?


  13. Anonymous



  14. Nicole

    Did the family end up finding out what happen to their other dag?


  15. Lola Sim

    I believe all things are possible. Love is beautiful whether between humans or with animals. Love is the force behind it.


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