Missing shih tzu found after 27 days in Colorado mountains
A 11/2-year-old shih tzu that went missing in late May was found alive after spending 27 days alone in the mountains.
Pitkin County Animal Safety Director ReRe Baker, who has worked in the county Animal Control Department for more than 30 years, said Wyatt is both the youngest and the smallest dog she has ever seen “disappear and reappear.”
According to Wyatt’s owner, Darryl Rowe, the veterinarian who treated Wyatt said he probably would not have survived another day alone in the woods.
The veterinarian, John Kuck of Willits Veterinary Hospital, is out of the office for the week and could not be reached for comment by The Aspen Times.
On June 23, Woody Creek residents Ty Burtard and Kelly Potter found Wyatt on a trail in the area.
Burtard said Wyatt “felt really skinny and tired” but that he “did not look as bad” as he would have expected having been lost for so long.
In the 27 days Wyatt was missing, the puppy lost more than half of his body weight, dropping from 14.5 pounds to 7 pounds, Rowe said.
He also suffered a temperature of 103.5 at the time that he was found, Baker said.
“He was extremely emaciated,” she said. “I don’t know how this dog survived.”
Wyatt ran away from his home in Diamond J Ranch around 3:30 p.m. on May 27, according to Rowe.
What’s less certain is the reason Wyatt took off in the first place, Rowe said.
His best guess is that his puppy went chasing after a squirrel or fox and got lost trying to make his way back to the ranch.
“There’s a lot of mystery in this,” he said.
Shortly after Wyatt went missing, Rowe alerted several animal shelters and clinics in the area.
“We looked for him every day and cried every day,” Rowe said.
When Butard and Potter came across a collarless Wyatt in Woody Creek nearly one month later, Butard called Baker.
Rowe said Wyatt was not wearing a collar because he had bathed him the day before he went missing and did not put it back on immediately after.
As soon as Baker heard from Butard, she reached out to her sources — one of which was a Basalt veterinary clinic that Rowe had also contacted.
On June 24, Baker called Rowe to share the news that brought them both to tears.
“I was crying, he was crying,” Baker said. “It was really heartwarming.”
But Baker said nothing beats the moment in which little Wyatt reunited with his family, including Rowe, his wife, Margaret, and Wyatt’s parents, Button and Chewey.
“Days like that are why I love my job,” Baker said. “You just can’t describe those moments.”
As a team, Aspen finished third overall in its lone home tournament of the fall. The Skiers shot a collective 239, finishing 12 back of fellow 3A powerhouse Colorado Academy (227). Steamboat Springs, out of 4A, shot 225 to take the win.
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