After 18 days, hope was dwindling. But when the Coast Guard C-130 pilot spotted the derelict fuel tanker Insiko 1907 drifting in the Pacific Ocean 680 miles southwest of Honolulu, he flew in for a closer look just in case. "Suddenly a ball of fluff dashed from one end of the bridge to the other," says Lt. Bennett Boyer. "She was alive."
She is Hokget, the dog belonging to the Insiko's Taiwanese captain, Chung Chin-po. Before her rescue April 26, the 2-year-old terrier mix toughed out 24 days alone on the tanker, wolfing down rodents and lapping up puddles left by squalls. Says Brian Murray, 37, the diver and oceanic salvager who crawled into a storage area to rescue Hokget: "She is, definitely, a wild dog."
And an overnight celebrity whose remarkable story has TV news bookers salivating like Pavlov's pooches. But for a canine whose name means "good fortune" in Taiwanese dialect, Hokget endured some terrible luck. On March 13 an engine-room fire crippled the Insiko. When her crew was rescued by a passing cruise ship April 2, Hokget was left behind. (Chung didn't think he could bring her aboard.) Alerted by cruise ship passengers who had heard barking on the Insiko, the Hawaiian Humane Society launched a rescue but couldn't locate the drifting tanker. Once the Coast Guard spotted it, Murray and his crew boarded the boat, where he found Hokget "inside a tire, baring her teeth, growling and shivering."
Now bathed, fed and dewormed, Hokget will spend 120 days in quarantine before settling down—never more to roam—in Hawaii with a friend of the Insiko's captain.
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