Pup found 5 weeks after falling overboard

SAN DIEGO — It sounds like a pitch for a far-fetched movie: “Cast Away,” but with a dog instead of Tom Hanks. Only this sea tale is true.

A California fisherman’s beloved German shepherd fell overboard and was presumed drowned. More than a month later, she was found.

The 1½-year-old dog named Luna was spotted this week on San Clemente Island, a Navy-owned training base 70 miles off San Diego.

The blue-eyed pup disappeared Feb. 10 as Nick 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 Tuesday, 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.

“She was just sitting there wagging her tail,” DeMunnik said. The staff called to Luna, and she came right over.

A biologist then examined the dog and found her a little thin but otherwise healthy.

“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.

“He was overwhelmed. He was so happy and grateful and thrilled,” DeMunnik said.

Luna was flown to a Navy base on the mainland Wednesday and handed over to Haworth’s best friend, who will care for the dog until Haworth returns Thursday night.

Luna, meanwhile, has a souvenir of the experience. Her dog tag was lost but the Navy gave her a new one, DeMunnik said.

Along with her name, it bears a key lesson in the Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape course taught on the island to Navy and Marine personnel. The tag reads: “Keep the Faith.”

More in News

Jasmine Chavez, a crew member aboard the Quantum of the Seas cruise ship, waves to her family during a cell phone conversation after disembarking from the ship at Marine Park on May 10. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
Ships in port for the week of June 15

Here’s what to expect this week.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Thursday, June 13, 2024

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Bill Thomas, a former Republican state representative from Haines, announced Friday he is dropping out of the race for the District 3 House seat this fall. (U.S. Sustainability Alliance photo)
Bill Thomas drops out of District 3 House race, says there isn’t time for fishing and campaigning

Haines Republican cites rough start to commercial season; incumbent Andi Story now unopposed.

U.S. Rep. Mary Peltola, D-Alaska, speaks at the Alaska Democratic Party’s state convention on May 18 at Elizabeth Peratrovich Hall. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
Peltola among few Democrats to vote for annual defense bill loaded with GOP ‘culture war’ amendments

Alaska congresswoman expresses confidence “poison pills” will be removed from final legislation.

A celebratory sign stands outside Goldbelt Inc.’s new building during the Alaska Native Regional Corporation’s 50th-anniversary celebration on Jan. 4. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
Medical company sues Goldbelt for at least $30M in contract dispute involving COVID-19 vaccine needles

Company says it was stuck with massive stock of useless needles due to improper specs from Goldbelt.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Wednesday, June 12, 2024

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

A yearling black bear waits for its mother to return. Most likely she won’t. This time of year juvenile bears are separated, sometimes forcibly, by their mothers as families break up during mating season. (Photo courtesy K. McGuire)
Bearing witness: Young bears get the boot from mom

With mating season for adults underway, juveniles seek out easy food sources in neighborhoods.

A chart shows COVID-19 pathogen levels at the Mendenhall wastewater treatment plant during the past three months. (Data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Wastewater Surveillance System)
Juneau seeing another increase in COVID-19 cases, but a scarcity of self-test kits

SEARHC, Juneau Drug have limited kits; other locations expect more by Saturday.

Gov. Mike Dunleavy speaks to reporters during a news conference Feb. 7. (James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)
Gov. Dunleavy picks second ex-talk radio host for lucrative fish job after first rejected

Rick Green will serve at least through Legislature’s next confirmation votes in the spring of 2025.

Most Read