First published in 1961, The Incredible Journey tells the story of three pets: a young Labrador retriever, an old bull terrier, and a Siamese cat. While their owners are away in England, they are being cared for by a family friend at his home in the country. But a miscommunication occurs between the friend and his housekeeper when he goes on a hunting trip, and the animals are left alone for a several hours, with a gnawing instinct that something has gone wrong. They soon set off on a journey to find home, which instinct tells them is to the west.
They travel 400 kilometres across the Northern Ontario wilderness, facing many obstacles along the way: swift-flowing rivers and the rugged landscape; wild animals and unsympathetic humans; starvation, injuries and sheer exhaustion. Separately they would not have survived, but together this disparate group prevails, and they find their way home to the family they love.
Sheila Burnford was born in Scotland and immigrated to Canada in 1951, settling in Port Arthur (now Thunder Bay), Ontario. She wrote this book when her bull terrier died, basing the three characters on her own three pets and how they communicated. She passed away in 1984.
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