Sheltie Dog Lost in Mountains for 5 Weeks Randomly Found, Reunites with Dad

Riley, an eight-year-old Sheltie, is fortunate to have survived after being lost high in the mountains for five weeks. After a heavy snowfall blanketed the five-foot fence in his backyard, Riley went missing from his Summit County, Colorado home on April 8. His whereabouts remained unknown until a chance encounter with a hiker four miles away and 4,000 feet higher than his home.

“The snowfall was significant that day, and when I went to the farthest corner of our land, the fence was nowhere to be seen – it was completely buried under the snow,” Riley’s owner, Mike Krugman, explained to KDVR. He surmised that Riley must have walked over the snow-covered fence and just kept going.

Krugman sprung into action, launching a search and alerting Summit Lost Pet Rescue. However, as the weeks rolled on, he began losing hope of ever finding Riley. Fast forward to May 14, a hiker named Zachary Hackett deviated from his planned route during a hike and heard a faint sound.

“I heard this tiny whimper and it startled me at first, not knowing what was behind me,” Hackett recounted to KDVR. “Then I realized, ‘Hang on, that’s a dog. There shouldn’t be any dogs up here.'”

Hackett noted that his rescue of Riley was entirely “serendipitous” as he hadn’t intended to be in that area. “I’ll always remember that little whimper. It was his plea for help,” he said. Finding Riley unable to stand, Hackett picked him up and descended the mountain. He looked after Riley overnight before rushing him to an emergency vet the next morning.

Riley was administered IV fluids for three days and had lost nearly half his weight. When Krugman heard that Riley was alive, he believed it was nothing short of a miracle. Given the drastic weight loss, he doubted Riley could have survived another day. “It’s baffling how he survived,” Krugman said about Riley, who belonged to his late wife, who passed away in January. “Somebody must have been watching over him, perhaps it was my wife.”

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