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A doggone drive: Wayward mastiff on his way home to Florida

Endo, a mastiff, looks out from the hatch of his "ride" back to Florida on Wednesday morning at Animal Allies in Duluth. He'll be taken on his journey home by Karie Vander Werf, a veterinarian at the University of Illinois-Champaign. (Bob King /

The expression on his face was mournful. But then, that's what a mastiff's face looks like.

Endo, the dog that worked his way from Cape Coral, Fla., to Superior after escaping a fenced-in lawn, began his return journey on Wednesday after holding a brief going-away party.

The 115-pound mastiff with a friendly demeanor, oversized jowls and slobbery drool disappeared from the Cape Coral property of Denise and Tommy Hartzog in May 2011. Another of the Hartzogs' dogs, a yellow Labrador, escaped the yard at the same time and was killed by an alligator that emerged from the canal across the street, Denise Hartzog said. That led the Hartzogs to fear the worst regarding Endo's fate.

But Endo survived and hooked up with some Northerners. After a journey that took him to St. Paul and then the Twin Ports, the dog wound up at the Animal Allies Superior shelter earlier this month. Animal Allies personnel found a microchip on Endo that led them to find his owners.

Endo's homeward journey began about 9 a.m. Wednesday from the Animal Allies' Duluth shelter on Airport Road. He should be home by Saturday, said volunteer driver Karie Vander Werf.