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Homeward Bound: Dog Reunites with Owner After 5 Weeks in the Mountains [Video]



Quick Smiles:

  • An 8-year-old Sheltie named Riley survived five weeks alone in the Colorado mountains after accidentally walking over a snow-covered fence from his backyard in Summit County.
  • Riley was discovered by a hiker, Zachary Hackett, who had veered off his usual hiking route. Hackett heard Riley’s faint yips, carried him down four miles from the mountain, and helped nurse him back to health before getting him to an ER vet.
  • Despite losing half his weight, Riley was reunited with his owner, Mike Krugman. Krugman was amazed by Riley’s survival, believing that his late wife must have been looking out for their pet, who had journeyed 4 miles and nearly 4,000 feet above their home.

In a Colorado town where tales of mountainous adventures aren’t hard to come by, an 8-year-old Sheltie named Riley has left locals and pet lovers alike with a captivating story of his survival and endurance.

After disappearing from his home in Summit County and being on his own for five weeks, Riley miraculously found his way back, albeit with the kind help of a local hiker.

Snowfall – the very thing that blankets the land into a picturesque winter postcard was the cause of Riley’s adventure.

“We got a lot of snow that day, sure enough, I walked to the far south side of our property and we didn’t have a fence — it was 100% covered in snow,” explained Mike Krugman, Riley’s owner.

He theorizes that Riley must have just walked over the snow-covered fence on April 8th and started his unexpected journey.


Weeks went by, and even with the help of Summit Lost Pet Rescue, the whereabouts of Riley remained a mystery.

Enter Zachary Hackett, an unsuspecting hiker, who was about to become a real-life hero for a dog in desperate need.

Hackett veered off his original hiking route and heard a faint, but distinct yip on May 14th.

“Then I said ‘wait a minute, that’s a dog. There shouldn’t be dogs up here,’” he recollected.

Spotting Riley, Hackett immediately noticed the poor creature could no longer walk.

Like a scene out of an adventure movie, he scooped up Riley and carried him down the mountain, nursing him overnight before getting him to an ER vet.


“That little yip, I’ll never forget it. That was him saying help me,” Hackett shared, adding his discovery was indeed fortuitous. “I wasn’t supposed to be in that area.”

The reunion between Krugman and Riley was nothing short of emotional.

“He traveled 4 miles and up. We live at 8,200 feet and he was found at 12,000 feet,” Krugman said in disbelief.

The journey took its toll on Riley who lost half of his weight, but the little Sheltie, a precious reminder of Krugman’s late wife, survived.

Krugman candidly shared, “Someone had to be looking out for him, maybe it was my wife.”

Riley’s resilience and determination are awe-inspiring, and his incredible journey back home is a heartwarming testament to the spirit of survival and the kindness of strangers, with an undeniable dash of serendipity.