The dog looked too skinny to just be another off-leash pup running ahead of her owner. Emma Hicks approached her gently. The closer she got, the more she realized that something was very wrong.
“I saw her paws were bleeding,” Hicks told McClatchy News in a phone interview. “I knew she was probably a lost dog.”
It was Dec. 29 and chilly, but Elephant Rock Trail was a hike Hicks had done many times before in all kinds of weather. Home for the holidays, the business student thought it was a good day for the 6 ½ mile trek not far from her parents’ house in Bountiful, Utah, about 10 miles north of Salt Lake City. She was nearly at the top when she saw the German Wirehaired Pointer.
“I called my mom immediately,” said Hicks.
Back in town, a man had been looking for his hunting dog Jane for 12 days. She had been in the yard and suddenly disappeared. He figured she got spooked by deer that are known to sometimes fight dogs. As the days wore on, and below-freezing temperatures lingered, things looked more and more grim.
What’s worse, Bountiful is rife with coyotes and mountain lions — not exactly a lone dog’s friends. His pleas ended up in a local Facebook group.
Hicks knew dogs well having always had them herself. Within moments, she won the canine’s trust and set off down the trail. At first, the dog ran ahead, but then, she began running into the trees. So as not to lose her, Hicks turned her fanny pack into a leash and fastened it to the dog’s neck. The two walked down, but soon, Hicks noticed the dog kept stopping.
“She must be so, so tired,” Hicks thought to herself. She realized she’d have to carry her. There was still a mile left of the trail, but it was the only way.
Some passersby on the trail helped Hicks get the dog onto her shoulders. Holding the pup like a 40-pound shawl, she continued down.
Hicks’ family had been online looking for the owner of the dog when her sister found a Facebook post looking for Jane the German Wirehaired Pointer.
Hicks was nearing the bottom when she heard her phone ring. She picked up.
“I can’t believe you found my dog,” said a man’s voice on the other end of the call.
A short time later, back at her parents’ house, Hicks watched Jane climb to her feet, her tail wagging excitedly, at the sound of her owner’s voice at the door.
“Twelve days,” Hicks said the man said with amazement while holding Jane’s tired, furry face in his hands. It was a reunion to remember.
“She was the nicest dog I’d ever met,” Hicks said. “She had been fighting to stay alive and get back to her family.”
This story was originally published January 2, 2024, 3:41 PM.