Meet Russ, the pit bull terrier mix who sort of got rid of himself in South Lake Tahoe for several months after being estranged from his family in the Caldor fire, but was found alive and is now reunited with his humans.
In San Francisco, Stories of Lost Dogs have recently looked at the theft of French Bulldogs, presumably for their resale value, though these stories often end with a happy reunion. Nature can be much more ruthless to dogs lost in rural areas, especially in the case of the terrifying evacuations from the Caldor fire in August, when many pets and livestock fled in terror or had to be left behind when the owners evacuated.
This was the case with the pit bull terrier mix seen above named Russ. “Russ (the dog) got scared and ran away from his owner’s vehicle while in Tahoe for work… in August! The owner reported to Animal Services and searched for Russ, but was then evacuated along with the rest of the South Shore due to the fire. It was assumed that Russ had been lost for good.
The pit bull terrier mix ran away from its owner’s vehicle last summer as its owner was visiting the Tahoe area for a job opportunity. https://t.co/UhofdORg8Z
– Chronicle of San Francisco (@sfchronicle) January 9, 2022
Apparently, we underestimated Russ’s survival skills, as the Chronicle reports that Russ was found in the snow more than four months later. An alert cross-country skier spotted Russ on Dec. 16, and after a multi-day rescue and rehabilitation operation, the Associated Press reports the dog has been “reunited with his family, who live in Riverside County.”
Russ “was in the snow, apparently unable to move, and growling at people watching,” according to the Facebook post. “El Dorado County Animal Services Officer Kyle Shumaker was notified but was unable to access the area due to the five foot depth of snow and steep terrain. Wendy enlisted the help of volunteers from TLC 4 Furry Friends & Tahoe PAWS, who outfitted themselves with snowshoes, dog rescue gear and a sled from Agent Shumaker. The dog was followed up the mountain and eventually located under a still tree. The volunteers were delighted when he opened his eyes and looked up.
“As a rescue organization… that’s what we’re supposed to do,” animal stalker Leona Allen told The Chronicle. “I’ve worked on some pretty gnarly rescues, this one probably being the best. I keep reliving the moment he opened his eyes and looked up, and just the joy and elation inside of me was overwhelming. It is one more life that must be lived happily, warmly and in safety.
Despite the dog’s superhuman ability to survive on his own for several months, one of the main reasons Russ is now reunited with his family is because he’s been microchipped.
“It’s a great reminder that it’s important to microchip your pet and maintain your name registration,” TLC 4 Furry Friends said in their Facebook post. “It’s also essential that you report your pet to the local animal services office if they go missing. “
Related: Dog lost for a decade found in Fort Funston, identified by microchip [SFist]
Image: TLC 4 Furry Friends via Facebook