When dogs go missing, it can be devastating for their owners. It’s never certain that a dog will find their way home, especially if they are older or handicapped. A blind or deaf dog may have a lot of support at home, but out in the wilderness, there’s no telling whether they will be able to survive.
That’s why one family was so distraught when their elderly, blind yellow Labrador went missing for a whole week. Despite their efforts to find her with their friends and neighbors, there was no sign of her.
The outlook was grim for this family and their beloved pooch, and they were just about to give up hope…
In Boulder Creek, California, a 12-year-old yellow Labrador retriever named Sage went missing from her family home; each member of the Cole household thought someone else had brought her inside for the night. Sage was blind, and once her family realized she was gone, they became very worried.
Beth Cole said in an interview that “Our neighbors and other members of the community helped us search day and night for a week… we looked everywhere.”
The Boulder creek community reported higher-than-normal mountain lion activity in addition to colder than normal nights. The Cole family feared the worst.
After seven days of searching, the Coles almost gave up hope. They asked members of the local community to help look for Sage, but came up short—until their next-door neighbor, an off-duty firefighter named Dan Estrada, stumbled upon what he thought was a trash bag in a creek.
Dan said, “My vision is not very good so it wasn’t until I got closer that I saw it’s actually a white Lab laying there lifeless in this stream-her chin just above water level.”
Dan was convinced that Sage had already passed away, and that he would have to tell the Cole family some very sad news.
Sage perked up once she sensed Dan’s two rescue dogs, Coelsch and Barnabas, who were walking with him.
Dan said, “It had been dry that week and the new rain was moving in. When we found her she didn’t have the energy to lift herself out. That stream bed would have been flowing during a rainstorm.”
Dan said, “When we saw that she was alive, I jumped in the stream and hugged her. Man, it was really emotional.” He carried Sage on his back and started walking out of the canyon, ecstatic that she was alive, and couldn’t wait to get her home to the Cole family.
Dan is a paramedic and EMT for the Livermore-Pleasanton Fire Department. He said, “My wife and kids were waiting for us at the top. Everyone was crying.” The Cole family offered Dan a reward, but he declined, and instead used the opportunity to help other dogs in need.
Dan is the co-founder of Wolfpak Leatherworks, which specializes in leatherwork for the fire service. They created seven custom dog leashes, one for each day that Sage was lost. They will be raffled off at a celebration for Sage at the local Boulder Creek bar. All proceeds will go to the Santa Cruz County Animal Shelter.
Beth Cole said, “I can’t emphasize enough the amount of support we’ve received from everyone. It’s been amazing. Since she’s returned home people have been bringing by snacks for her; one neighbor cooked her a steak.”
The whole community was so happy that Sage was found—especially the Cole family, who were grateful to Dan for his help. They couldn’t be more relieved to have Sage home safe and sound!
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