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Resilient Dog Triumphs After 6-Month Adventure Alone



Quick Smiles:

  • Autumn, a Finnish spitz mix adopted from South Korea, demonstrated a remarkable spirit of independence, surviving six months alone on the loose.
  • The quick and elusive Autumn found a temporary home at the Army post of Fort Myer, near Arlington National Cemetery.
  • After a dedicated rescue effort by the Animal Welfare League of Arlington (AWLA), Autumn was safely returned to her owner, Samantha Paulino, showcasing the outstanding efforts of communities coming together for a beloved pet.

Samantha Paulino from Arlington, Virginia, could not predict that upon adopting Autumn, a rescue dog from South Korea, her new companion would showcase such a robust spirit of independence. Autumn, presumed to be a 2 to 3-year-old Finnish spitz mix when adopted, astonishingly survived an entire six months on her own after escaping due to a suspected anxiety-induced episode in December 2023.

“From the start, it was evident that Autumn had anxiety and a natural tendency to be independent,” asserted Paulino. Even though she was small, weighing only 12 pounds, this determined canine managed to evade numerous capture attempts, sparking intrigue within the Arlington community.

Paulino labelled Autumn a “speedster,” commenting, “If she gets loose and pursued, her panic levels rise and she merely accelerates.” When Autumn went missing, a large-scale search was initiated by Paulino and locals. Flyers were disseminated, animal control authorities were notified, and an Instagram account, @findingAutumn_, was created to facilitate finding the lost pup.

Although there were reports of Autumn sightings shortly after her escape, the agile and cunning dog always maintained a safe distance. Autumn was seen near Arlington National Cemetery in late December. However, there was about a month of no sightings, a period during which Paulino confessed her hope of finding the dog nearly vanished.

In early February, hope was revived when Katie, a military band member, contacted Paulino claiming to have spotted Autumn. Following this promising lead, it was discovered that Autumn had inconspicuously made Fort Myer, an Army post near Arlington National Cemetery, her temporary dwelling. This revelation triggered a community-wide response, with AWLA stepping up their efforts to locate Autumn.

Anna Barrett, AWLA’s animal control services coordinator, explained, “We committed ourselves to Autumn’s daily needs, visiting her feeding station on the base twice a day, studying her footprints and understanding her routines.” Despite these measures, Autumn proved hard to catch. However, the relentless determination of the AWLA team led to a breakthrough on June 11, and Autumn was finally captured using a unique method of a “trap inside a trap.”


Upon her capture, Autumn appeared relieved, settling near her rescuers. The clever dog spent a night at the AWLA recuperating before being reunited with her loving owner, Samantha Paulino.

Expressing her gratitude, Paulino mentioned, “It’s been a real process. It took the collective efforts of many to reach this point.”

Under the vigilant eyes of Paulino and the AWLA, Autumn, fitted with a GPS tracker and double-leashed for walks, is readjusting to life as a pet. Inspite of the trials, the story of Autumn’s adventure is a testament to a community’s ability to unite for the love of an adopted pet, showcasing a tale of resilience, hope, and the extraordinary capacity of collective caring.


1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Eliot Schickler

    June 27, 2024 at 4:02 am

    I’m glad that they found Autumn! I’m especially happy for the owner because losing her dog must have been an ordeal! I hope Autumn doesn’t leave her owner again and will behave!

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