By: Amber King/I Heart Dogs When a dog was in distress and emergency personnel couldn’t help, five strangers joined together to save a life. It was an 18 kilometer (about 11 miles) round-trip hike through the wilderness, but the rescue came just in time for the Chocolate Lab named Louie.
Janessa Walker and Louie are the best adventure buddies. Walker loves to take Louie, who belongs to her stepmom, Amanda McGregor, for hikes and walks, and a weekend trip through the Chilliwack mountains sounded like the perfect escape. The pair started their trek on Saturday morning and were expected home by Sunday afternoon. But when the sun started to set and there was still no sign of the avid hikers, their family started to worry.
Another hiker said he had seen the missing pair, but the dog wasn’t able to walk down on his own. Knowing Walker was equipped to camp, her family waited until the next day to go looking for her. But before they made it into the woods, they finally got a phone call. Walker had climbed down the mountain early in the morning, and she told her parents Louie was hurt.
She described how the dog disappeared for a few minutes during their hike. When she found him, he was lying on the ground with his paws bloody and a large wound on his stomach. He couldn’t stand, let alone walk, but his limp, 90-pound body was too heavy for Walker to carry. She gave him water and comfort, but she was forced to settle in for another night on the mountain. She refused to leave her friend alone for long, and after talking to her parents, she turned around and went back up the trail.
At home, McGregor did everything she could to get help. The police refused to launch a rescue for a dog, and the Chilliwack Search and Rescue had a similar response. Desperate to save their dog, McGregor and Walker’s father attempted the hike on their own. But as inexperienced hikers, they were forced to turn around. Walker then tried to craft a stretcher to drag Louie down the mountain, but it didn’t work.
For four days, Louie was exposed to the elements and in desperate need of veterinary care. Walker went back and forth keeping the dog alive, but without help, there wasn’t much she could do. On Wednesday, she knew Louie couldn’t wait any longer. After talking to the local SPCA, McGregor decided to join a Facebook group for nearby hikers. She posted a plea for help, and after a few messages, she had a group of experienced hikers willing to meet her at the trail head.
McGregor told Vancouver Sun,
“Five complete strangers met us at the trail. I burst into tears. They were going up there to rescue my kid and my dog.”
Equipped with hiking equipment and a dog stretcher, the group made their way through the woods. They met an exhausted Walker part way there, and she led them to Louie. The way back was hard and tiring. The hikers switched off carrying the big dog’s stretcher, and Louie barely moved. He was dehydrated and battling multiple infections, but when the group finally made it to the bottom where his owners were waiting, he lifted his head and opened his eyes. Isaac Hazelton, one of the hikers, posted on Facebook saying,
“Was reunited with his family at around 6:30. It was quite the trek but worth every second of it.”
Overwhelmed with gratitude, Louie’s family paused for only a short reunion before rushing him to the animal hospital. His paw pads were severely injured, the wound on his stomach wasn’t healing, and he likely suffered from heat stroke. After days spent in emergency care, Louie’s health started to improve. He fought off an internal infection and eventually got his appetite back. He started responding to treatment, and on Sunday, his family finally took him home.
Both Walker and McGregor know their boy wouldn’t be with them now if it wasn’t for the compassion they received from a group of strangers. They saved Louie’s life, and countless donations from friends, family, and animal lovers from all over helped pay for his vet bills. Louie has a lot of life left to live, and this adventure dog isn’t giving up.
Featured Image Source: GoFundMe/Louie’s Recovery Fund