The remains of a 71-year-old hiker, missing since August, were discovered in the southern Colorado mountains, accompanied by his steadfast terrier, which had managed to survive in the wilderness, reported a rescue group.
Rich Moore, who set out with his Jack Russell Terrier, Finney, on August 19 to summit Blackhead Peak in Colorado’s San Juan Mountains, was not found until October 30, approximately two and a half miles east of the mountain top, according to a Facebook post from Taos Search and Rescue.
Finney, despite losing about half of his body weight during the ten weeks of Moore’s disappearance, was found alongside his owner, in relatively good shape, stated Delinda Vanne-Brightyn, a member of the volunteer rescue group.
Vanne-Brightyn, who participated in the initial search for Moore, expressed deep emotions, saying, “It just brings us all to tears, the loyalty of that dog”.
The search for Moore involved multiple efforts, with crews covering the mountain peak to the parking lot where Moore had left his car. The rugged terrain required helicopter transport for parts of the search. Vanne-Brightyn highlighted the extreme difficulty of hiking the summit.
Despite clear weather on the day Moore went missing, the circumstances puzzled searchers, as an experienced hiker should have been able to spot his parked car from the peak, noted Vanne-Brightyn.
Vanne-Brightyn suggested that Finney likely survived by consuming water from nearby underground streams and capturing small animals, such as field mice or chipmunks.
The sheriff’s office animal control division took custody of Finney before returning him to his other owners, according to a division spokesperson.
This isn’t the first time where a dog shows his loyalty to his owner. In May of last year, Donald Hayes, a 74-year-old hiker, disappeared during a mountain hike near Prescott, Arizona, accompanied by his dog, Ranger, as reported by local authorities in a 2022 statement.
Nearly a week after Hayes’ remains were discovered in the challenging terrain, officials reported that Ranger was found alive and believed to have stayed with his owner throughout the entire ordeal. According to the release, the dog received care at a nearby animal hospital.