Friday, March 1, 2024

Dog Survived 5 Weeks in the Mountains Before Being Found by Hiker

Zach Hackett, who recently moved to the Breckenridge area, was 3,600 meters up in the Colorado mountains when he heard the faintest of noises. In a later interview, he said it wasn’t a bark nor a cry—but something in-between that sounded like a ‘yip’.

After looking around, he spotted the source of the sound—a small black and white dog who was shivering on the floor approximately 10 meters away. The pup was noticeably emaciated.

Hackett immediately knew what he had to do. He slowly approached the shivering pup but quickly realized that it wasn’t strong enough to stand, let alone make the walk back into town. Without hesitation, he scooped up the pup, wrapped him in one of his blankets, and carried him through the woods for two hours.

Since they weren’t on a trail, the terrain was tough to walk through as there were lots of sharp sticks and downed trees; the ground was also very steep, which made it difficult for him to keep his balance with the pup in his arms. At one point, he also had to carry the pup across a river.

While the river itself wasn’t very deep, the current was quick, which made any potential fall life-threatening. Fortunately, the pup didn’t give him any trouble; he didn’t try to jump out of his arms nor did he move around. In fact, he didn’t make a single sound during the ordeal.

When Hackett finally made it back home, it was late at night and the local animal shelter was closed. Wanting to keep the pup comfortable, he and his girlfriend gave him a warm bath as well as some water. He later admitted that he was “very worried” as the dog was in bad shape.

riley bath

The next morning, he drove the pup to the animal shelter and that’s where he learned that the dog, who was named Riley, had been missing for over a month. Since he was new to the city, he hadn’t seen the posters and signs that were put up about the missing Shetland sheepdog.

Meanwhile, the dog’s owner, Mike Krugman, had nearly given up on finding his beloved pet.

On April 8th, Krugman let his sheepdog out for his usual evening outing. Usually, he would run around the mountainside properly, and bark at the horses down at the barn before returning home for dinner. But on that fateful date, he didn’t return.

According to Krugman, they had had five feet of snow in the past few days, which completely covered their five-foot fence.

Krugman, who used to run an animal rescue center for sheepdogs and collies with his late wife, had six dogs, including Riley. His wife passed away in January. Krugman says his family and friends believed that Riley ran off in search of her.

riley reunited

Desperate to find his beloved pet, he called the Summit Lost Pet Rescue, who immediately put up social media posts and posters for Riley. Despite their best efforts, however, nobody called.

So when Krugman received the call in June, he could barely believe it. He dropped everything he was doing and immediately went to the shelter, where he was reunited with Riley. He took the pup to the vet, where they realized he had lost half his body weight, from 25 pounds to 12 pounds.

Fortunately, the dog is doing much better after spending three days on an IV and being slowly reintroduced to food.

riley the dog

Since the incident, Hackett has launched a new dog care business and has started to volunteer at Summit Lost Pet Rescue. He has also visited Riley and Krugman several times since the reunion.


Brooke Carter
Brooke Carter
Freelance writer who loves dogs and anything related to Japanese culture.


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