SAN MIGUEL COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) – A dog that stayed by its owner’s side to keep away predators after he died in the frigid mountains has been returned home to his family.

Robert Blake, 81, went missing on Lizard Head Pass with his golden retriever, Buddy, last weekend. Blake was cross-country skiing in the area near Telluride when he stopped for lunch and his heart stopped beating.

Marlene Blake and Buddy (credit: CBS)

Marlene Blake and Buddy (credit: CBS)

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When rescuers found Robert’s body they found Buddy guarding him, keeping away coyotes. The dog also kept rescuers at bay until they were able to eventually win him over.

Now Buddy is back with Robert’s wife, Marlene Blake.

“I knew Buddy was with him and would not leave him. I knew that, you know just from my heart,” said Marlene.

Buddy and Robert were inseparable. When Marlene hadn’t received a call or text from him, she knew there was only one outcome.

Robert Blake, Buddy and skiing friends (credit: Blake Family)

Robert Blake, Buddy and skiing friends (credit: Blake Family)

“I knew, I knew he was dead or he would have,” said Marlene.

Marlene said Robert loved being outdoors, surrounded by the mountains and wilderness.

“I used to say, ‘You know, I worry about you, you might be in some snow bank up there and I’ll never find you,’ and he said, ‘Don’t worry, that’s where I want to be,’ Yeah, so… so he got his wish,” said Marlene.

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Marlene had GPS coordinates near Robert’s last location and that helped volunteers find him.

Buddy was in a protective stance, ready to battle any predator.

“There are a large number of coyotes in the area and Buddy refused to leave Mr. Blake’s body until we spent some time coaxing him,” said San Miguel County Sheriff Bill Masters.

Buddy and Marlene were reunited over the weekend. Now he’ll stay with her.

“I couldn’t make it without him, I could not,” said Marlene.

At the same time search crews on the ground found Robert’s body, a helicopter being used in the search lost power and crashed.

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All three people on board walked away uninjured.