Dog's Incredible Journey Home After Five Weeks in Rocky Mountains

...against significant odds.

Colorado resident Mike Krugman had given up hope that he'd ever see his dog Riley again, after the vanished from the homeowner's back yard on April 8. The loss was especially acute because Riley was close to Krugman's wife, who died earlier this year. But five weeks later, Riley is back home, against significant odds. Read on to find out how the reunion happened.

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Krugman told CBS News he was shocked after Riley didn't come back inside after being let out for his usual evening meal.  "The next morning I got on my snowshoes because we had just had a big dump of snow and started looking and discovered on the south end of the property, the fence wasn't there anymore," Krugman said. 

mountain lion
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Krugman contacted the local Summit Lost Pet Rescue to track down Riley, but they had received no sign of the missing dog. He assumed Riley had been preyed upon by one of the many larger species of wildlife in the area.  "We had mountain lions over on Peak Seven move in this direction, we've got coyotes on this mountain," said Krugman.  But Riley turned out to be hardier than his owner or local experts could have predicted.

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On May 14, Zach Hackett set out on a hike, eager to explore his new surroundings after moving to Breckenridge. He crossed the Blue River, hiked into the backwoods, and a mounted a summit when he heard a slight "yip."  It was Riley, who was sitting under a tree, not moving. "I realized very quickly, uh, that he was not supposed to be up there," Hackett told CBS News.

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Hackett scooped him up, put him inside his jacket, and started the hike back home, giving the dog "comforting words all the way down." Once home, he gave Riley a bath and some food, then contacted the Summit Lost Pet Rescue.  This time, the organization was able to reunite Krugman with his beloved missing pet—a tie to his late wife. "This was my wife's dog, and she slept with him every night," Krugman said. 

Summit Lost Pet Rescue, Inc./Facebook

"Everyone was telling me 'maybe she needed somebody with her,' and so that's why" he left home, said Krugman. "Then it's like 'maybe she watched over him and got him back home safe. But that would be Zach's job to bring him home safely," Krugman told CBS.  In any event, a grateful Krugman has ordered a GPS tag to keep close track of Riley in the future, and Hackett has started his own pet boarding business under the name "Riley's Retreat."

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