A devoted dog refused to leave her deceased owner’s body, where they remained missing for almost three months on a dangerous hiking trail.
Despite enduring starvation, weighing a mere 6lb, and surviving on insects and chipmunks, the determined pup managed to stay alive and keep predators away from her beloved owner’s body in the wild.
Missing hiker and dog vanish in San Juan Mountains
Rich Moore, aged about 71, and his black and white Jack Russell named Finney, vanished during a hike on August 19 in Blackhead Peak, which is situated in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado.
According to the Denver Gazette, the search for Moore was the most comprehensive in the county’s history.
Nine dogs, five helicopters, and 175 flight and ground crews were deployed in the pursuit of finding the man and his loyal dog.
The search was eventually discontinued on September 22 after amassing an exhaustive 2,100 hours of effort.
However, on October 30, a local hunter made a miraculous discovery – he found Finney alive, steadfastly guarding the missing man’s body in the Lower Blanco drainage basin.
Missing hiker’s body discovered by hunter
The hunter tried to grab the dog, but she was too “skittish” and he was unable to take her to safety himself.
It was only when rescuers came to bring Moore’s remains down the mountain that they were able to entice Finney away from the body with a can of dog food.
The dog was so starved that inhaled the can and clung to it with her teeth at one point.
While she was eating, Archuleta County’s Deputy Director of Emergency Management, Roy Vega, was able to snag her in a blanket.
Personnel noted that Finney, who had likely encountered other wildlife during her solitary journey through the mountains, bore long scars on her nose and was so gaunt her purple collar was hanging off of her neck.
They surmised that Finney had stayed alive by eating small rodents and insects, while drinking from nearby spring.
At the point of her rescue, Finney weighed only six pounds, which was half of her original body weight.
Missing hiker’s dog returned home to widow
She is now in the care of Moore’s wife of 34 years, Dana Holby, who moved to Colorado from Vermont with her husband two years ago, so they could retire in the mountains.
“I’m just grateful that she was with him,” said Holby told the Denver Gazette. “Rich did not want to get old. He wanted to climb mountains until he couldn’t, so here we are.”
She now lays Moore’s clothes all over the house so Finney can nuzzle them and takes the dog on daily four-mile walks.
According to Fox News, the cause of Moore’s death has still not been determined.