A 9-year-old Sheltie was rescued after surviving over a month in the mountains surrounding Breckenridge, CO. The dog wandered away from its home at a local Breckenridge homestead following one of its owners passing away. The resilient pup was rescued and returned to its owners last week.
The dog, Riley, was discovered by a hiker near the Peak 4 area of Breckenridge. While navigating switchbacks around 12,000 feet above sea level, hiker Zack Hackett heard a subtle “yip” in the area. He then saw an exhausted pup huddled against a downed tree and knew immediately that a rescue would have to take place. In an article that originally appeared in the Summit Daily, Zack Hackett said:
“He had no energy when I found him. He knew he was in trouble. He knew he needed to be rescued,” Hackett said. “So that little ‘yip’ was the only exertion of energy he had that night. It was a, ‘Hey, save me!”
The rescue proved difficult, as it took over two hours to return to the trailhead where Zack started. He even had to cross the blue river with Riley wrapped up in a windbreaker in his arms, making the trek down with the shivering and starving dog in hand. Combine this with sections of the trail still sitting under several feet of snow, getting Riley down in one piece was certainly not easy. However, Zack persevered until he was safely back at his apartment, which is located very close to the trailhead. Several days later, Riley was reunited with his owner, completing an improbable turn of events that some would call a miracle.
Since returning to the other five dogs that occupy his property, Riley has recovered fully and is back to his full energy and health. Despite weighing 12 pounds and being on death’s door when discovered, Riley was back to full strength several days after being rescued. Zack also cared for him immediately upon returning to his apartment, keeping him warm and fed until the morning as he knew the closest emergency veterinarian would be over an hour and a half away in Denver.
Considering the Breckenridge area had been blanketed with snow several times during the five weeks Riley was missing, and a mountain lion had been sighted recently, this turn of events is truly remarkable. Zack’s heroic actions should be commended, as the poor dog may not have survived another night in the cold summit county wilderness. His owner, Mike Krugman, was overjoyed when news came back that Riley had been found safely, as he had pretty much given up hope at this point in the search. A true feel-good story, it is amazing to see that Riley will be able to continue to thrive at his Breckenridge home despite the odds being stacked against him.