A Jack Russell terrier who demonstrated unwavering loyalty in the face of a harrowing ordeal is back with her family. Finney and her owner, Richard Moore, were hiking Blackhead Peak in the Colorado Mountains on August 19th when they never returned home.
The faithful small dog was recently found alive next to Moore’s body having survived 10 weeks in the mountains.
Search parties searched for nearly 2,000 hours for the 71-year-old man from Pagosa Springs and his dog but were unable to find them. It wasn’t until October 30th that a hunter stumbled upon Moore’s body in the Lower Blanco drainage basin and alerted authorities, according to the Archuleta County Sheriff’s Office.
The hunter couldn’t approach Finney to get her because she bared her teeth and barked, protecting Moore according to The Denver Gazette.
“The day they found him [Moore] there was a wildland fire, and then a call came in. A hunter messaged his son in town that he had found a body and a dog,” said Ryan Foster, the sheriff’s emergency management commander. “I called the sheriff and I said ‘I think we’ve found Rich.’”
When the recovery crew flew in the next day they found Finney still next to Moore. She had at least half her normal body weight and weighed just 6 pounds. It appears Moore died of hypothermia. Foster told the Denver Gazette that Finney was very skinny and she had long scars on her nose. They ended up luring her over to them with a can of wet dog food. Foster said that Finney was so hungry that “at one point, when she was eating out of the can, she picked it up with her teeth. She wasn’t letting go of that dog food can.”
Delinda VanneBrightyn with Taos Search and Rescue told CBS News that Finney was reunited with Moore’s family and rushed to the veterinarian.
Finney’s “loyalty and the testament to the fact that this dog stayed with this person that long is just a beautiful story that is on the other side of a very sad tragedy,” VanneBrightyn later told Business Insider in an interview.
It’s suspected that Finney survived on eating mice and drinking water from streams. VanneBrightyn, who has trained dogs for two decades, told CBS News, “Jack Russells are pretty fierce, I have to say, they’re tough little dogs.”
“If that dog could talk it would be an amazing story,” she added. “We probably could not even believe the story the dog would tell.”
The rescue team wrote on Facebook, “Our team, Taos Search and Rescue, wants to send condolences to Rich’s family and that in the midst of a terrible human tragedy we are also grateful that they still have this heroic dog that was part of Rich’s life with them.”
Moore’s wife, Dana Holby, told the Denver Gazette that she takes Finney everywhere with her and has lain her husband’s clothes out around the house so that Finney can smell him.
Holby told the newspaper, “I’m just grateful that she was with him.”