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Hikers find dog lost on mountain in Colorado after 6 weeks

Posted at 9:29 PM, Oct 09, 2017
and last updated 2017-10-10 11:01:50-04

ALMA, Colo. -- There is no way a family dog could survive on a mountain for six weeks at 13,500 feet all by itself with no food or water, right? Never underestimate man's best friend.

Judging by her white whiskers, Chloe is a veteran mountain dog.

"She loves to go camping and hiking and running around in the snow," said her owner, Anouk Patel.

At nearly 14 years old, the Lab mix hates leashes and loves exploring, especially Mt. Bross, the 14,172-foot peak in her backyard.

"It's literally out the back door," said Patel. "Like, I look out my window every morning, and I can see Mount Bross. But she always comes home before nightfall. Without fail, she comes home for her dinner."

Without fail, until Aug. 11. Chloe didn't come home that night. Or the next.

Patel and her husband, Larry Osborne, started posting on Facebook, organizing searches, looking everywhere.

"We were searching by foot and by four-wheeler for a month," said Patel, who was desperate to find the best friend she has had since she and her husband first started dating more than a decade ago. "She's been our rock for a long time. When I'm sad, she's who I go to cry to, you know, and she's always been that comforting soul to us. She's a big part of our lives."

As the days passed with no sign, they started to lose hope. Then, a week passed. A month. Six weeks.

"I never wanted to say it out loud or think it because I didn't want to believe it," said Patel.

Meanwhile, Trinity Smith, who lived just a few houses away in Alma, had never heard about Chloe.

"I've always had this kind of addiction to saving animals," said Smith, who noticed a post on her 14ers.com Facebook group about a dog heard barking on Mount Bross. 

She canceled her weekend getaway to Telluride and started a search.

"I was just like there is no way I would ever have a good time [in Telluride,]" she said. "I'm going to be thinking about a dog stuck up on Mt. Bross the whole time."

On the second day of searching scree fields, she and her boyfriend, Sean Nichols, heard the bark.

The found Chloe trapped high on a Boulder, and she immediately jumped into Nichols' arms.

"I couldn't believe she had enough energy to wag her tail. But she was so happy. She knew that she was safe. She knew that she was going home," said Smith.

In Alma, word travels fast that the rescued dog might belong to the owners of the local bar.

"No. There's no way that's Chloe," said Patel, describing when she first heard about a dog found on a 14er. "But then I went outside the bar, and then she turned around, and I mean, I didn't even think. I lost myself. That was really just one of the happiest moments ever in my life."

Chloe was skin and bones. She had gone from weighing 80 pounds to only 26 pounds, but the veterinarian found no serious injuries. And she has already gained back more than 20 pounds.

"She was gone exactly six weeks to the day," said Patel, shaking her head. "It truly is a miracle for sure. It's the wildest story. It's the perfect happy ending to what could have been a really sad thing."