Riley, a 9-year-old sheltie, had a rough start to the year. His owner, Mike Krugman, lost his wife to heart failure in January. Riley was her dog, and he always slept on her pillow. He was also the smallest of six dogs in the Krugman homestead in Breckenridge, Colorado, but he acted like the “Alpha dog” and “boss of the house”.
On April 8, Riley ran away from his home. Krugman let him out at the end of the night, as he usually did, but Riley never came back. Krugman searched for him and contacted Summit Lost Pet Rescue for help, but there was no sign of Riley.
Meanwhile, Riley was on a perilous journey. He somehow crossed the Blue River and climbed up to Peak 4 in the Rocky Mountains, where he faced cold and snowy conditions for five weeks. He had no food or shelter, and he was emaciated and weak.
On May 14, a hiker named Zach Hackett was exploring the trails on Peak 4 when he heard a faint “yip” from Riley. Hackett followed the sound and found the dog sitting among the downed trees, hardly able to move.
“He had no energy when I found him. He knew he was in trouble. He knew he needed to be rescued,” Hackett said. “So that little ‘yip’ was the only exertion of energy he had that night. It was a, ‘Hey, save me.’”
Hackett decided to rescue Riley. He wrapped him in a windbreaker and carried him down the mountain for two hours. He then contacted a pet rescue group that helped reunite Riley with Krugman.
Krugman was overjoyed to see his dog again and called it “a miracle”. He said Riley had traveled four miles and up, from 8,200 feet to 12,000 feet.
“It’s a miracle. It’s just amazing that he survived,” Krugman said.
Hackett said he felt compelled to save Riley because he cared about all living things.
“I’m the type of person I really care about everyone, no matter who you are — all living things,” Hackett said.
Riley is now recovering at home with Krugman and his other dogs. He is still sleeping on his late owner’s pillow every night.
– A Breckenridge man’s dog ran off after his wife died. It survived 5 weeks in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains before being rescued by a hiker., SummitDaily.com, Jun 2, 2023
– Colorado dog missing over 5 weeks found miles from home by mountain hiker, FoxWeather.com, Jun 3, 2023
– Dog missing for 5 weeks found by hiker in Colorado mountains, MSN.com, Jun 2, 2023
– A Colorado man’s dog ran off after his wife died. It survived 5 weeks in the Rocky Mountains before being rescued by a hiker., DenverPost.com, Jun 6, 2023