A story of the unlikely rescue of a lost dog:
In the summer of 1974 I did a lot of hiking around pearl pass in Colorado. It’s a little over 12,000 feet between Crested Butte and Aspen. There was, perhaps still is, an above timberline lake with lots of juicy brook trout. I enjoyed pitching my tent, lighting my little camp stove and frying up a great tasting meal of trout I had caught.
One time I arrived late in the day and decided to wait until morning to hike up the trail to the lake. In the meantime I scouted the beaver damns before the sun got too low.
As I strolled along taking in the glory of the surrounding mountains and the golden glow from the sun, I almost tripped over something I did not expect to see. It was a dog huddled down in the brush. He was fairly large and appeared to be an Irish Setter. He looked pitiful, as if he were starving although he was not emaciated. He might have been there a few days.
At first, he didn’t react to me. I guess he was on his last legs and sensed the end was near. But when I opened my pack and pulled out a ham sandwich I’d made for myself he suddenly came to life. The sandwich was gone in short order.
Now he was on his feet. He had a collar and an ID tag giving his dog name and his master’s telephone number in the State of Virginia.
I decided I would not be hiking up to the lake the next day because I would need to go into Crested Butte and make a phone call to reunite this dog with his owner. Besides, I had little food left. I’d given nearly everything I had to the dog.
As I showed him my tent and got his agreement to sleep with me for the night, I heard a voice coming out of the canyon below. I check the dog’s ID tag. Sure enough, someone was calling this dog’s name.
Come’on boy, I said, and he dutifully followed me to a lookout spot where we saw a pickup truck slowly making its way up the rotten jeep road which was the only access through the canyon. I instantly knew the man standing in the bed of the pickup was this dog’s owner. He was calling for his dog.
I began shouting and waving my arms but the pickup didn’t stop. Apparently they couldn’t see or hear me. The jeep road made a curve to the right and went up the other side of the canyon. My heart sunk, this guy is clearly desperate to get his dog back, I have his dog and I’m ready to reunite man and dog. But he can’t see or hear me and he’s heading straight away from us.
But then some great happened. The dog started barking. The pickup truck that was about to leave us suddenly stopped. Then I saw the backup lights of the truck come on. The man looked up and saw me and his dog.
I and the dog bushwhacked our way down the near 45 degree sides of the canyon. I’ll probably never see a man happier than this man at this moment. He had his beloved dog back.
He explained that he had been up the canyon every day for the last five days. This was to be his last attempt to rescue his dog from whatever calamity had separated them.
He jumped down and hugged me. For a moment I was afraid he was going to kiss me. He didn’t.
He kept trying to think of ways to thank me, but I assured him that just finding him and reuniting him with his dog was going to be a memorable experience in my life. We parted ways and I shall never forget how good I felt that I had stumbled onto his dog while strolling along a stream of beaver ponds. It was a minor miracle that I found him. I wasn’t looking for anything, I just stumbled upon him. Must have been some sort of divine intervention. The dog had reached a state in which he had pretty much given up.
I hope he and his master lived a happy life, whatever may have been left of it for them both, after that day 46 years ago.