After one month of scraping by among the unforgiving terrain of Colorado’s Mount Bross, Chloe is overjoyed to be back in the warm embrace of her family.
According to The Denver Post, Larry Osborne’s 14-year-old Lab/pit bull mix went missing in the small town of Alma, Colorado, on Mount Bross. The peak is one of Colorado’s popular 14ers, a term used for mountains with elevations of at least 14,000 ft.
Worried that the senior dog wouldn’t last long on the mountain, Osborne asked the whole town for help finding the missing pet. All of Alma, which has a 300-person year-round population, helped look for the dog. After five weeks of searching, many, including Chloe’s pet parents, started to accept that the dog was gone.
“I’d told our son the dog had died,” Osborne told The Denver Post. “I mean, how the hell could anyone survive that?”
But then on Sept. 20, several days after Osborne held a memorial service for Chloe, someone heard barking on Mount Bross and posted about the incident on the Facebook group 14ers.com. Trinity Smith, who recently joined the group, saw the post and, with Mount Bross basically in her backyard, decided to take action.
“I was laying in bed last Wednesday scrolling through the pics and saw a post about a guy hearing a dog barking on his way back down Mt. Bross,” Smith told PEOPLE, recalling how she and Chloe crossed paths. “Some of the comments on this post were hikers very concerned that there might be a dog in distress stuck up there, but the majority of comments were from people stating it was probably a coyote.”
This didn’t scare Smith. “This peak is basically right in my backyard, so I figured after work on Thursday I’d climb up there to see if I could confirm that it was a dog or coyote.”
On Thursday evening, Smith scaled the mountain to the spot where the previous hiker heard barking. After calling for the dog for an hour and hearing nothing, she decided to start back down before it go too dark.
“That’s when I finally heard the first barks. I immediately hopped off the trail and went straight down into a gully and straight back up toward some cliffs toward the top. The dog had frantically started barking by then so I was yelling out and bawling my eyes out trying to pinpoint the exact location,” Smith said.
Worried about scrambling around the rocks in the dark alone, Smith sprinted back to her car and posted a call for help in the 14ers.com Facebook group, which was immediately answered by another concerned animal lover. Together, the pair scoured the area, but heard no more barks.
The next day Smith and the other hiker returned, along with Smith’s boyfriend Sean, to try again in the daylight.
“We spent about four hours yelling for this dog, who hasn’t made a noise since I was up there alone the day before. It started snowing so we were starting to give up hope, and then once again the dog knew we were leaving and let out its first bark,” Smith said.
The trio started frantically searching the area where they heard the barks and Sean soon found Chloe stuck in a rocky chute. He was able to pull her to safety and slide back down with Chloe is his arms.
The scuffed-up pooch, who weighed 90 lbs. when she went missing, now weighed only 26 lbs., but she was alive. Smith immediately gave the canine food and water and then drove her into town to reunite her with her owners. It was an emotional moment for everyone.
A true survivor, Chloe has easily reacclimated herself to domestic life. She has already gained back 10 lbs. Plus, Chloe still gets to see her saviors, since Smith lives in the neighborhood.
“The owners are forever grateful. They ended up being our neighbors we had never met. So I get to check on Chloe whenever I want,” Smith said of the happy ending.