It was a miracle for one dog who had been missing for months out in California. The lucky pooch was rescued from the wilderness by some cross country skiers and snowboarders who happened upon the pup, stuck out in the snow.
The 3-year-old Pitbull mix named Russ had been missing for several months.
Russ first disappeared back in August 2021, after the Caldor Fire devastated California’s Lake Tahoe region. While escaping the fire, Russ and his owner had become separated.
The missing dog was nowhere to be found…until December rolled around and he was discovered huddled in a ball in five feet of snow during the freezing temperatures.
He was found by skiers, but when they approached him, he growled at them. Not wanting to upset the dog or worsen the situation, the skiers took a picture of him and got in touch with the local rescue group called Tahoe PAWS. The rescue’s director, Wendy Jones, got the alert and knew that timing in this situation was crucial.
As she explained to The Washington Post, “We knew time was [of] the essence because the dog had been out in the snow all day. And we knew how cold it was. So it was pretty intense, pretty emotional, a lot of adrenaline.”
Kyle Shumaker, an El Dorado County Animal Services Officer, was called about the stranded dog but was not able to reach the location because of the deep snow plus the rugged terrain. He was without the proper equipment to make the trek, so Wendy ended up calling up volunteers from TLC 4 Furry Friends & Tahoe PAWS.
Leona Allen and Elsa Gaule showed up, “suited up with snowshoes, dog rescue equipment, and a sled from Officer Shumaker,” ready to make the journey to go rescue the stranded Russ. Luckily, they were able to locate Russ by the time it became dark out.
Speaking of the dramatic rescue, Tahoe PAWS shared on Facebook, “The dog was tracked up the mountain, and finally located under a tree not moving. The volunteers were elated when he opened his eyes and lifted his head.”
One of the rescuers, Leona Allen, shared her joy with KOVR, saying, “I followed the tracks and all of a sudden saw this dark shape under the tree and thought this isn’t good he’s not moving and thought to get really nervous and really upset. And then he opened his eyes, and I’m pretty sure I screamed. I’m pretty sure Elsa heard me down the mountain.”
Even though they were able to locate Russ still alive, it wasn’t easy getting him down the mountain. They had to get him onto the sled and then one of the volunteers had to lay on top with him in order to keep the dog both calm and warm. However, as they recalled in the Facebook post, because of the treacherous journey the rescued posed in the dark, the “trek down the mountain was slow and methodical.”
At the base, Officer Shumaker was waiting to get Russ to the veterinarian as soon as the two volunteers got back down with the pup. At the vet’s office, they discovered that Russ had a microchip, so they were able to track down his owners who were overjoyed by the news.
The Tahoe PAWS wrote on Facebook, “When contacted, the owner was ecstatic to find out that his dog was alive! Russ (the dog) had gotten scared and run off from his owner’s vehicle while he was in Tahoe for a job in August! The owner made a report to Animal Services and searched for Russ, but was then evacuated with the rest of the south shore due to the fire. It was assumed that Russ had been lost for good.”
It was a very Merry Christmas for the formerly lost pup as he got to reunite with his family just in time for Christmas.
We’re so glad that Russ was reunited with his family!