K9 rescue dog with taos search and rescue
Instagram, Taos Search and Rescue

Loyal Dog Found Alive Beside Deceased Owner After 72 Days in the Woods

The dog had not left his owner's side for nearly two and a half months.

We all like to believe that dogs are man's best friend, but one little Colorado terrier just proved that heartbreakingly true: At the end of October, the body of a Colorado hiker who had been missing in the San Juan mountain range since August was found. Equally surprising: His loyal dog, who he had been out hiking with when he disappeared, was still standing guard over him 72 days after the man had been declared missing.

Finney, a Jack Russel terrier, had accompanied her owner Rich Moore, 71, on August 19 to summit Blackhead Peak, a 12,000-foot mountain east of their hometown in Pagosa Springs. The pair were never heard from or seen again, despite extensive search and rescue efforts by Taos Seach and Rescue.

According to the Denver Gazette, a local hunter found Moore's body in a drainage basin on October 30. The following day, members of the sheriff's office and search and rescue were flown into the drainage to locate, identify, and recover Moore. Remarkably, when they arrived on the scene they also found Finney, still next to her owner.

The little dog had remained loyal to the end and beyond, watching over Moore for nearly two and a half months.

After the rescue, Finney was transported to a local veterinary hospital for examination and treatment and was later reunited with the rest of her family.

Delinda Vanne-Brightyn and her certified K9 search and rescue companion were working on the original search with Taos Search and Rescue. She expressed her condolences on their Instagram account, and said, "They are glad they were able to gain some closure and bring [Finney] back home."

This is not the first time dogs have stayed with their owners after their owners have perished in the backcountry. In April 2022, a hiker who had been missing for two weeks was found in Los Angeles' Griffith Park with his dog, King, by his side. King hadn't left his owner's side in two weeks and was emaciated by the time he was rescued. A month later, the body of a hiker was found in Arizona with his dog alive and lying next to him after the pair had been missing for five days. The dog was dehydrated and malnourished, but otherwise okay.

READ MORE: 10 Hiking Dogs That Make the Best Trail Companions