A three-year-old dog who went missing for four months is finally home after being rescued by volunteers from the California wilds.
Ross, a bull terrier mix, escaped from his owner, Ricardo Rodriguez, during a camping trip in the Lake Tahoe area in late August. Rodriguez, a mobile nurse, was with four of his friends when the dog panicked and ran away.
He and his buddies spent hours searching for the puppy but failed to locate it. Rodriguez also hung up flyers and called on local shelters to report him missing before he was forced to leave the area by a blaze raging across California, which destroyed 222,000 acres of land and more than 1,000 buildings in 67 days.
Rodriguez thought he would never see his close friend again.
“After months of not getting a response from anyone, I assumed he was in good hands with a different owner,” he told CNN. “I was hoping he would come back one day.”
But on December 16, the nonprofit animal search and rescue group, TLC 4 Furry Friends, was notified about an abandoned dog in Twin Peaks, just west of South Lake Tahoe.
One skier reported that the dog appeared to be stuck in a snowdrift. However, they were unable to help him as the dog roared at anyone approaching him.
Kyle Shoemaker, El Dorado County Animal Services Officer, was alerted about the animal, but five feet of snow and steep terrain prevented him from reaching the dog. That’s when he notified Wendy Jones, founder and CEO of Tahoe PAWS & TLC 4 Furry Friends, about the situation.
Jones, who was attending another rescue mission at the time, sent two of her volunteers to the site.
When Leona Allen and Elsa Jules learned of the task at hand, they immediately put on their gear and climbed up the snowy hill.
“We didn’t even hesitate,” said Allen, 61, a seasonal US Forest Service firefighter who’s been volunteering with Tahoe PAWS for about three years. “That was one deal, we either got him or he didn’t make it through the night.”
When the couple arrived at the scene, temperatures were expected to drop to -2 degrees Fahrenheit by evening. The area was filled with nearly five feet of fresh snow, which put more of a challenge to the height of the hill.
Wearing her headlight and snowshoes, Allen followed dog trails with Gul, who followed closely with an animal service sleigh provided by Officer Shoemaker.
Then she saw a “dark spot” in the snow under the tree well. Allen feared the worst because the dog wasn’t moving, but eventually opened his eyes and raised his head!
At first, Ross let out a slight roar at them out of fear. But after being persuaded with rewards, Gaule was able to earn the dog’s trust.
“I grabbed my hand and put it under his chin, and he immediately put his head on my hand,” Gul recalls. “That’s when they knew he was confident and ready for salvation.”
They wrapped Ross in blankets after they pulled him out of the thick snow. Allen put the dog in her lap, and the trio went on a walk of about two hours down the hill to meet Officer Shoemaker, who brought the dog to a vet.
Doctors confirmed that Ross is in good health despite being alone for several months and facing a massive fire and snowstorm. Ross stayed at the orphanage for a few days, and Allen and Jules visited him regularly. They said that the dog behaves kindly and kindly towards everyone.
Thanks to the microchip, animal service workers were able to connect him to Rodriguez. Finally, the pair met on December 26.
“If I tried to put myself in this position, I don’t think I would,” Rodriguez said. “This guy is something else here. He has gone through all of that.”
This dog is definitely a survivor! Learn more about Ross’ long journey home in the video below.
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