By Dillon Thomas
ALMA, Colo. (CBS4) – A miraculous story of survival has invaded the small-town streets of Alma. A network of hikers helped save a 14-year-old dog from a treacherous 14er mountainside, after it ran away from home six weeks prior.
Larry Osborne said his dog, Chloe, was returned to him well after he accepted the idea that she was deceased.
“I was not optimistic at all,” Osborne told CBS4’s Dillon Thomas.
Osborne said Chloe had run away during a routine walk near her Mount Bross home.
“After about the fourth week (of searching for Chloe), we started taking the posters down,” Osborne said.
Five weeks after Chloe ran away, a hiker heard a faint bark along the steep mountainside.
Alma resident Trinity Smith saw a post online, saying a dog may be stuck on the mountain.
“I had no sleep the past two nights, because all I could think about was a poor dog stuck in harsh conditions, at 14,00 feet,” Smith said.
Some hikers speculated the barking may have come from a coyote. However, Smith still felt she needed to find out.
For two days, Smith searched the mountain, calling for the reported dog.
“I started to give up, thinking she hadn’t made it through the night. Then (I heard) that little bark, and the adrenaline started going again,” Smith said.
Smith, and her friend Sean Nichols, climbed in the direction of the barking.
“I saw a little head pop up,” Nichols said.
Chloe responded to Smith, and Nichols’, shouts. She was stuck on the edge of a ledge, surrounded by loose rock on steep terrain.
Seeing the dog couldn’t get down on her own, Nichols climbed to her aid.
“I reached up and got her, and she got on my chest,” Nichols said. “We just slid down the rocks. She was so light, I could hold her with one arm.”
When Chloe ran away, she weighed more than 90 pounds. After being pulled off the mountain, and brought back to the Town of Alma, she only weighed 26 pounds.
Nichols and Smith fed Chloe, gave her four bottles of water, and brought brought her to the “Almart,” a local convenience store.
Kim Clement, an employee at Almart, immediately recognized the description of the dog, and called Osborne to let him know.
“I just started crying. I couldn’t believe it was (Chloe),” Osborne said, as he laid beside his newly-returned dog.
“(When Chloe saw Osborne) she was wagging her tail, she knew she was safe,” Nichols said.
Smith told CBS4 she was thrilled she found the dog when she did. Less than 72 hours after the first hiker heard Chloe’s bark, snow covered the same mountainside Chloe was barely surviving on.
Osborne, who claimed he at one point even searched for Chloe’s remains, said his faith in humanity was restored.
“With everything going on in the world, there are still good people out there,” Osborne said.
Dillon Thomas is a reporter at CBS4 and a Colorado native. He believes everyone has a story, and would love to share yours! You can find more of his stories by following him on Twitter, @DillonMThomas.