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Pet hotels have come a long way from the gloomy dog kennels that were once the norm. But apparently there’s still no substitute for the comfort of home. In a delightful and downright impressive story from Inside Edition, Jeremy and Sarah Henson had their five-day Las Vegas vacation disrupted last February when they got an alert that their Ring doorbell had been pressed. Who was at their door? It was none other than their dog Dexter who they had recently boarded at a local pet hotel.
The Lenexa, Kansas couple must have been completely shocked that the dog escaped the pet hotel, made his way home and knew how to ring the doorbell. “We were both like, ‘Oh my God, that’s Dexter!’” Jeremy told Inside Edition. “Obviously, he didn’t understand the fact that we were gone, he just thought that we were home. And he takes his job protecting us very seriously.”
The couple wasn’t sure what to do because they were 1,350 miles from home. Jeremy tried to calm the dog down by speaking to him through the Ring speaker from his phone while they waited for the pet hotel staff to get there.
“Hi, Buddy. Good boy. Stay there. Sit. Dexter, sit. Dexter, sit. Sit. Oh, I know, buddy. I’m sorry. What a smart boy, though. Good boy,” Jeremy can be heard saying through the Ring speaker as Dexter whimpers and bangs on the door.
Dexter listened to his owner and stayed by the door until staff from the pet hotel were able to safely retrieve him. The dog didn’t seem to be afraid of the pet hotel staff when they arrived with what appeared to be a leash.
The incredible thing about the story is how Dexter escaped the pet hotel and made his way home. He had to scale a 6-foot fence and then find his house two miles away in a journey that took around 90 minutes. “That intelligence can get him into trouble sometimes,” Jeremy added.
Sarah Henson told Fox 4 Kansas City that Jeremy had taken the dog on a lot of long walks so that’s probably how he knew the way home. But she wondered why the pet hotel hadn’t told them he was missing.
“It didn’t surprise me that he was on our front steps. I was just concerned that they didn’t know, so I called them,” she told Fox 4.
Dexter’s journey seems incredible, but it’s not inconceivable because dogs have an incredible sense of smell. According to VCA Hospitals, dogs have more than 100 million sensory receptor sites in their nasal cavity compared to humans, who have just 6 million.
Plus, dogs devote a lot more brainpower to interpreting smells. The area of the canine brain that’s dedicated to interpreting smells is 40 times larger than a human’s.
Bonnie Beaver, the executive director of the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists and a professor at Texas A&M University, says it’s not unheard of for a dog to find their way home from as far as 11 miles.
“An eleven-mile distance is actually not terribly long for a dog,” Beaver told Time magazine. “If the dog had walked both from and back to his home he’d be following his own scent trail.”
Dexter’s story is an incredible example of what can happen when a dog’s loyalty and incredible sense of smell work in tandem. Let’s just hope that poor Dexter wasn’t too distressed for the rest of his stay at the pet hotel while his family was in Las Vegas.