By Dillon Thomas
CHAFFEE COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) – Thanks to a Colorado man, a goldendoodle named Bentley is back home with his owner after spending half a month in the mountains on his own.
In early August, Bentley was in a vehicle when it was involved in a fatal crash near the Gunnison National Forest. After the crash, he ran from the scene in to the woods.
For weeks, Bentley’s owner Sam Orr posted on social media asking for help locating the dog.
Joe Stratmann responded to the ad and drove more than three and a half hours to search for Bentley.
“I was just moved by the story. I am a dog lover,” Stratmann told CBS4’s Dillon Thomas.
Since the owners lived in Kansas, Stratmann hiked the trail with two of his own dogs. When he was halfway up the trail, he said he reconsidered if it was worthwhile to search.
“(After) 16 days, the dog is probably dead, (I thought) ‘What am I doing here?'” Stratmann said. “But, I went ahead and started walking up. And, boy, I am glad I did.”
As Stratmann passed treeline, he noticed something unique on the terrain before him.
“I saw something white up there, moving around,” Stratmann said. “I said, ‘Surely not, this can’t be this easy, that can’t be him.'”
With the assistance of binoculars, Stratmann was able to clearly identify the animal as a dog and not a mountain goat.
“(Bentley) was bouncing around, hunting mice up in the rocks,” Stratmann said.
Since he was with dogs of his own, Stratmann left food and toys on the mountain for Bentley and retreated. He called Orr and delivered the news she was waiting on. She drove to Colorado and met the man who found her dog at the trailhead.
Video shared on Facebook showed the moment Bentley was reunited with Orr.
Bentley was timid when Orr called his name. It took several minutes for Bentley to fully approach Orr, even with her calling his name calmly. At one point, Bentley started to walk away, as Orr approached him. However, once she sat down on the top of the mountain, Bentley approached her, eventually laying down in her lap.
“There was a lot of man tears shed. I think everybody was crying,” Stratmann said. “A lot of happy tears.”
“(Bentley) is okay. He is literally laying in my lap, and he is fine,” Orr said in the video, as she wiped away tears.
Thanks to blind intuition by a stranger in Colorado, Orr was able to get her dog back.
“This is probably the greatest thing I have ever done in my life,” Stratmann said.
Orr told CBS4 she returned to Kansas with her dog, where they were trying to rest from an emotionally taxing week.
“He is safe, he is coming home. I am so grateful. Thank you everybody,” Orr said in the video.
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.