BOULDER CREEK, Calif. -- A blind dog that was lost in the mountains in California was missing for more than a week before being rescued, CBS San Francisco reports.
Sage, a 12-year-old Labrador, lost both eyes due to glaucoma and a recent tumor. For eight days, the family dog was alone, lost in the thick woods and steep terrain of the Santa Cruz Mountains.
The family mistakenly thought she had been brought into the house, only to realize after about an hour that Sage was gone.
“It was horrible. We just didn’t know,” Beth Cole, Sage’s owner, said. “You know, it was cold, she’s kind of helpless as far as being able to find her way back on her own.”
Stories of Sage’s disappearance spread on social media. Desperate to find her, the family even hired a professional dog tracker from Southern California to search the dense woods. But after no sign of her, Cole had just about given up.
But her next door neighbor Dan Estrada happened to be walking with a friend in the woods and spotted Sage’s near lifeless body close to a shallow stream.
“I saw what I thought was a trash bag in the stream and as I looked a little bit closer, I could tell it was Sage,” Estrada said. “The very moment I saw Sage, my heart fell into my stomach and I was overwhelmed with sadness, because I knew at that point it would be a body recovery.”
Estrada is a veteran firefighter and paramedic for the Livermore-Pleasanton Fire Department. This rescue was a bit different than his usual fare.
“As soon as I saw her in the stream, I ran to her, and I just dropped right there in the water, and I wrapped my arms around her and I gave her a big hug and a kiss,” Estrada said. “And immediately she held her head up.”
He carried her over his shoulders about a 100 yards up the canyon. He believes the water from the creek likely saved her.
“If dogs could smile, I think she was smiling at the time,” Estrada said.
Fortunately, Sage is doing OK and is back on her bed after a visit to the vet. She and Cole are closer than ever.
“I think she just was waiting for us, and fortunately Dan came along,” Cole said.
Estrada turned down the $1,000 reward, but he earned something else.
“Sage definitely taught me a lesson of hope and a lesson of never to give up,” he said. “I mean, it’s something that we train to do all the time.”
Sometimes, a dog’s determination is the best reminder of that.
There will be a fundraiser benefiting the Santa Cruz County animal shelter to celebrate Sage’s rescue at a local bar on Saturday.