The image is classic: a mountaineer accompanied by his dog, a perfect pairing for walking alone without feeling alone. Sometimes, you don’t know who is taking who to the mountains. In the case of Rich Moore, a 71-year-old retired American and his pet Finney, a 3-year-old female Jack Russell Terrier, the owner made the animal his accomplice to pursue his passion. And to channel the excessive energy of an animal that only wanted to chase squirrels through the forest, throwing bites into the air in search of any insect. This may have ended up killing Moore. On August 19, both traveled by car from their town of Pagosa Springs (Colorado), in the shadow of the majestic San Juan Mountain Range, to a parking lot located 29 kilometers further away. Moore and his wife, Dana Holby (78 years old), had moved after their retirement to fully live their passion for hiking and surround themselves with a couple of dogs. They usually went out together, or with other members of the local mountain club, but at the end of August Moore decided to ascend the mountain alone. Blackhead Peak, a 3,800-meter mountain that I knew well: His wife was visiting her sister, so he went out with Finney. He ignored the warning from his wife, upset that she was only going out for a walk. Seventy-two days later, he was still missing. Nor had the dog returned from the routine outing. For weeks, she almost 180 professionals and volunteers They combed the sides of the mountain, especially the west slope that led to the parking lot.
The search did not make big headlines beyond the local press: it was apparently another mountaineer defeated by the mountain. Until a hunter on horseback came across a corpse, Moore’s, and a tiny, starving dog that bared its teeth, threatening, protecting the remains. The hunter warned the sheriff thanks to a satellite device widely used among mountaineers and warned that he was not able to get close to the animal. When the sheriff and his team reached the indicated place, a can of food sprinkled with a tranquilizer allowed them to pick up Finney. Since then, his return has gone viral and one of the most respected magazines in the United States, Outsidehas investigated for reveal new details of a story as bitter as it is tender. “In the fall it was clear that my husband would never return home, neither Finney“, explains in Outside Dana Holby, but when she learned that they had found both, sadness and surprise mixed like two contradictory ingredients. Holby immediately knew that he had to go meet her pet and when he saw her he barely recognized her: her predominantly white color and the black and brown spots on her face stood out dirty. She and her son cried when they saw her. The animal had lost half its weight and was barely over two kilos; His stretched skin revealed his ribs and an ugly wound altered the top of his snout. But, in some improbable way, she had managed to return home.
Medical authorities determined days later that Moore had died of hypothermia and exposure. The next mystery was to discover how the dog had survived. And finally, it remained to be seen how the hell they had both ended up on the wrong side of the mountain, far from any hint of civilization. Veterinarians warn those who wish to listen that the Jack Russell Terrier breed is extremely demanding: they are not salon animals, but rather dogs “bred to hunt rodents and even foxes” that have a tenacious, indomitable temperament that requires constant physical exercise. They are also individualistic, hence the bonds with their owners are extremely special.
Moore adopted the role of nurturer, designing games for Finney and they immediately became partners on the mountain trails. Usually, Finney He was loose and could relentlessly pursue any animal that his radar caught. But he always returned, faithful. It is not surprising that the dog stayed for 72 days next to the corpse of her dream. He survived, it seems, by hunting insects, searching for grubs in the ground, hunting rodents or injured or aged squirrels. He had to drink from nearby streams. Always on the limit. It seems a miracle that she was not prey to the predatory fauna that roams freely in the area: black bears and pumas, mainly.
August 19 was a day of radiant sunshine and immaculate visibility in the Pagosa Springs surroundings. It does not seem likely, then, that Moore got lost and ended up on the east side of the mountain, a place where it does not make sense for him to go, as explained by local authorities. Now, the investigation considers the possibility that Finney would run out chasing an animal and dragging its owner behind her. Maybe this time Finney It took a while to return, forcing Moore to wander further and further from the trail, over rugged, steep, unmarked terrain that was unfamiliar to him. Then came the disorientation, the night, the cold, the dehydration, the hunger… and a return home that was unthinkable for Finney.
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