A loyal canine companion, enduring over 10 weeks alone in the Colorado mountains after her owner succumbed to hypothermia during a hiking expedition, has remarkably recovered most of the weight lost during the challenging ordeal. The family announced on Thursday that she is now back on the trails.
Rich Moore, a 71-year-old resident of Pagosa Springs, Colorado, set out on a hike to Blackhead Peak with his Jack Russell terrier, Finney, on August 19 but did not return. Despite days of searching between the peak and his vehicle, there was no sign of him. It wasn’t until October 30 that a hunter discovered Moore’s lifeless body with the fiercely protective Finney in the San Juan Mountains of southwestern Colorado. Finney had lost about half of her body weight, and her ribs were visible, according to officials.
Dana Holby sent in this photo of her Jack Russell terrier Finney on Thursday, November 16, 2023, in Pagosa Springs, Colorado.
Less than three weeks later, “Finney is doing well,” Moore’s wife, Dana Holby, told The Associated Press on Thursday. “She has gained almost all of her weight back, and her strength is almost where it was. She is the miracle dog.”
However, Finney does have an injury on her snout that might leave a scar, Holby mentioned. “She is now 3, very clingy and will not let me out of her sight,” Holby said. “Her ravenous appetite has calmed down, but at first, she could not get enough to eat and wanted food at all times of the day and night.”
Finney’s survival story has made her a celebrity on the hiking trails around Pagosa Springs, according to Holby. “People say, ‘Is that Finney?'” to which Holby responds with an enthusiastic, “Yes!” Holby added, “She is such a comfort to me and a great companion on hikes,” covering 4 to 5 miles a day.
Dana Holby provided this image of her Jack Russell terrier Finney on October 31, 2023, in Pagosa Springs, Colorado, shortly after returning from the mountains.
“I know that she was with Rich to the very end, and somehow that should be a comfort. I don’t know how she did it, but she was there when he needed her,” Holby expressed.
Delinda VanneBrightyn, a volunteer with Taos Search and Rescue, joined the search effort with her search dog. Finney’s “magnificent story of survival” is a testament to her dedication and loyalty to Moore, said VanneBrightyn, a seasoned dog trainer. “Jack Russells are pretty fierce, I have to say, they’re tough little dogs.”
Finney’s tale of resilience marks the third documented instance of a dog found alive alongside a deceased hiker since the previous year. In May 2022, a Labrador was found beside the body of a 74-year-old Arizona man who had passed away during a hiking excursion. The preceding month, a 29-year-old hiker who had gone missing was found lifeless in Los Angeles’ Griffith Park, with his loyal dog by his side. Family members noted that it seemed the dog had steadfastly remained by his side for two weeks.