An exhausted Riley had been missing for several weeks in the Rocky Mountains until Zach Hackett stumbled upon him during a hike.
A 9-year-old sheltie named Riley went missing from his Colorado home on April 8. Mike Krugman had just let the pooch, who is one of his 5 dogs, go for a walk on his 36-acre property. “I got his kibble ready, and when he didn’t come back, I didn’t worry at first,” Krugman told The Washington Post. “Sometimes Riley likes to go down to the barn and bark at the horses.” But soon Krugman began to realize something was wrong. He searched all over the property but couldn't find his beloved canine. “I thought, ‘Maybe Riley has gone looking for Pam,’” said the 74-year-old widower who lost his wife Pam Krugman to a heart condition in January. “Riley would sleep on her pillow every night,” Krugman said.
His dog ran off after his wife died. A remarkable rescue ensued.— The Washington Post (@washingtonpost) June 14, 2023
Five weeks after Riley ran away, a hiker found him in the mountains near Breckenridge, Colo., and carried the dog hours down the rocky terrain to his owner. https://t.co/dwBNWLy7jk
Unbelievably the sheltie found his way to treacherous terrain in the Rocky Mountains. He had somehow survived for more than a month. Fortunately for him, a hiker heard his single “yip” and spotted the dog high up in the mountains by which time he seemed weak and exhausted. “He knew he was in trouble. He knew he needed to be rescued,” Hackett told the Summit Daily. “So that little ‘yip’ was the only exertion of energy he had that night. It was a, ‘Hey, save me.’”
The pooch was visibly shaken and shivering behind some fallen pine trees. Hackett was up 12,000 feet hiking when he spotted Riley. “I was a little startled, because dogs shouldn’t be up there so high,” the 33-year-old shared. “Hey buddy,” he called out, then whistled. “Hey, come here — do you want a treat? You want a cookie? Come here, buddy. Are you shivering cold, buddy?” Can you come with me? Can you follow me?” Hackett wrapped Riley in a windbreaker and carried him for two hours down the mountain to safety navigating snow that was several feet deep. Once he reached the Blue River, about a quarter of a mile from his apartment, he even carried Riley through the knee-deep water as the skies turned dark.
According to PETA, he also cared for Riley overnight and took him to a local animal shelter in the morning. Eventually, he was reunited with Krugman, who had been frantically searching for him and who called his rescue “a miracle.”
“People at the shelter were shocked when they checked the Summit Lost Pet Rescue records and learned Riley had been gone for five weeks and one day,” Hackett said. “I started bawling when they told me that. He weighed only12 pounds and had survived out there for five weeks? That was pretty stunning and emotional to me,” he said. Krugman also got emotional adding, “I got this call from the shelter, and they said a good Samaritan had brought Riley in,” he recalled. “Of course, I cried. I’m not a real spiritual person, but somebody had to have been looking out for that dog, maybe my wife.” Three days later Hackett stopped by his house to see how Riley was doing and when the two men met it was truly heartwarming. “I’m just so thankful for what he did and for the efforts of all the people who searched for Riley,” Krugman said. Riley is doing well now and has a hearty appetite and is gaining weight. All thanks to Hackett!