As dusk fell in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area, a clap of thunder sent Lindsey, a 40-pound Minneapolis mutt, on the run.

John Lundquist, the dog's owner, returned to the Twin Cities, heartbroken that his 5-year-old rescue dog likely was gone forever.

He and his girlfriend, on a five-day, late September canoe trip, were hiking a portage on their way to their campsite near Basswood Falls when Lindsey disappeared into the woods. For the next two days, he and his girlfriend called out for the dog as they paddled, portaged and bushwhacked through the woods. As they broke camp on Sept. 26, Lindsey suddenly appeared and then ran off again. The couple spent the next few hours trying to lure Lindsey back to no avail.

Lundquist had no choice but to paddle out of the wilderness. Cold, wet and running out of food, Lundquist had to return to work and his three daughters in the Twin Cities.

He asked nearby campers to keep an eye out, allowing him to grasp a sliver of hope that Lindsey would be found and returned.

But as they paddled away, he said he called out a last goodbye to the dog that fast became his "best friend" after a divorce three years earlier. Lindsey was mellow, loving and affectionate. Going AWOL was out of character for the Australian cattle-dog mix.

"It was cold and wet and there wasn't going to be a lot of food and people around," Lundquist said. "I don't know what she would survive on. … I figured I would never see her again."

Back home, Lundquist alerted Ely outfitters, posted on message boards and called the Ely radio station just in case his runaway was spotted.

More than a week after Lindsey ran away, Lundquist got a phone call that his dog was safe in the Boundary Waters with other campers who would bring the dog to Ely. On Oct. 8, he heard that Lindsey was safe and sound in Ely.

But before Lundquist could get up there, Lindsey had escaped again.

With the help of the Retrievers, a group of volunteers who help find lost dogs, the search for Lindsey was on — again.

As people called and e-mailed sightings of the rogue pup, the volunteers began to triangulate where Lindsey might be roaming. They eventually pinpointed a spot where she came for food. They set a live trap.

Four weeks after Lindsey went missing, she was spotted running across a highway with a wolf in pursuit.

"I figured that was the end of the story," Lundquist said.

But two days later Lindsey was sighted in Winton, Minn., 4 miles northeast of Ely. Volunteers with the Retrievers quickly moved a feeding station, camera and live trap into the town and two hours later, they had Lundquist's dog.

She was 10 pounds lighter and her ribs were showing, but Lindsey is back home in Minneapolis.

Proof, Lundquist said, that "people will go the distance for dogs."

Mary Lynn Smith • 612-673-4788