The dog, a 3-year-old pit bull mix named Russ, and his owner were reunited following the rescue. The dog became lost when the Caldor fire overtook the Lake Tahoe area, and his owner had to vacate without Russ.
“He was very cold and scared and tired, and it was a trying trek coming down the hillside with five feet of snow,” Wendy Jones, Tahoe PAWS and TLC 4 Furry Friends’ executive director told People of Russ. “It was freezing temperatures, and it was getting dark. I’m sure this dog has an adventure to tell.”
The dog was spotted in December by a skier in the Sierra Nevada mountains. The skier then took some photos and shared them on Facebook. Jones saw the post and contacted rescuers Leona Allen and Elsa Gaule to help save Russ.
“I followed the tracks and all of a sudden saw this dark shape under the tree and thought this isn’t good he’s not moving and thought to get really nervous and really upset,” one of the rescuers, Allen told KOVR. “And then he opened his eyes, and I’m pretty sure I screamed. I’m pretty sure Elsa heard me down the mountain.”
Allen continued, “The sweetest thing on the planet. Just the most amazing dog.”
The rescuers used snowshoes, a sled, and dog rescue equipment to scale the snowy mountain and save the dog, who was later reunited with owner, thanks to a missing dog report that was previously filed and a microchip.
“He [the owner] was ecstatic,” Jones said of the reunion.