How It All Happened
Larry Osborne and Anouk Patel live in Alma, Colorado. There, they run the South Park Saloon – the highest saloon in North America. Due to this, they are at the heart of their community and are very well known in the area. the saloon is famous amongst tourists and locals.
Like To Explore
Given that their home and business is nestled in the Rocky Mountains, the couple relish any opportunity to get out in the open. Some of their favorite pastimes are hiking, skiing, fishing and camping, which they enjoy with their son Shail and dog Chloe.
Beloved Dog Runs Away
In 2017 Osborne and Patel were enjoying a late summer hike with their Labrador-pit bull mix. As they made their way into the mountains, however, the beloved 14-year-old Chloe ran away.
Distraught And Worried
Distraught owners Osborne and Patel looked everywhere for their precious pet, but she was nowhere to be seen. The couple refused to give up, however. So, they put the word out among Alma’s 300 residents that Chloe was missing.
To spread the news further, the couple also posted an appeal on Facebook. “Chloe has been missing since yesterday,” they wrote. “It’s not like her not to come home at night. She’s old, choco lab mix.”
Weeks Pass By Without A Response
Thanks to her owners’ efforts, then, there were plenty of people keeping an eye out for Chloe on the mountain. As the weeks passed, though, Osborne and Patel’s hopes began to fade. And after a month without their dog, they resigned themselves to the fact that they may never see her again.
If you have a dog, then you know that they are not just a pet, but are part of the family. To have lost her in such a sudden way, without knowing where she was or if she was ok or got hurt, was heart wrenching for them. Stuck in the uncertainty was hard to bear.
No Sign Of Her Anywhere
With no sign of Chloe anywhere, the couple eventually decided that they would have to move on. “I’d told our son the dog had died,” Osborne revealed to The Denver Post in September 2017. As a result, the family held a memorial to say their goodbyes to the animal.
How Would She Survive?
If she was alive, Osborne and Patel couldn’t see how Chloe could last on the 14,000-foot high mountain for more than a month. She had no food and presumably limited access to water. “I mean, how the hell could anyone survive that?” Osborne said.
All Hope Was Lost
Just when the family had lost all hope, though, it turned out that a local couple had unwittingly launched their own search for Chloe. Trinity Smith and Sean Nichols had read reports of a dog barking up on the mountains through Colorado mountaineering website 14ers.com. As a result, they decided to go and investigate.
Sending Out A Search Party
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.
Smith and Nichols were both relative beginners when it came to mountain climbing. Nonetheless, Smith initially decided to go out alone in search of the creature. But after a day of climbing, she still hadn’t come across any signs of the dog.
Scaling The Mountain
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.
Finally Hearing The Barks
“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.
Just As They Were About To Give Up
Then, just as dusk was beginning to fall, she heard a dog crying in the distance. Unfortunately, she couldn’t locate the animal and had to leave the mountain when night came. Undeterred, though, Smith vowed to return to the peaks with Nichols the following day. They would not give up.
What Did They Notice In The Distance?
As the couple made their way up the steep and cloudy mountain, they noticed something in the distance. “Once I got there, I could see a little head pop up and hear her barking,” Nichols told Inside Edition in September 2017.
Following The Barking
Nichols followed the sound of the barking, which eventually led him to a steep ledge. And sure enough, there was Chloe. She was weak and emaciated, but crucially she was still alive and patiently awaiting her rescue. They couldn’t believe it.
Sad To See Her In A State
Recalling the moment when he reached out to Chloe, Nichols said, “She came down into my chest and there was such an incline that we just slid [down the mountain].” Thankfully, though, he was able to bring the dog down safely.
Why Smith Wanted To Help
“I was laying in bed 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 I’d climb up there to see if I could confirm that it was a dog or coyote.”
A Sweet Reunion
And aren’t we glad he took notice of that ad. Shortly afterwards, Chloe was finally reunited with her owners after six long weeks on the mountain. “We love our dog and we almost gave up, but she is back with us, and that is the best thing in the world,” Patel said later.
Weak And In Critical Condition
Following her six-week ordeal in the Rockies, Chloe had lost a significant amount of weight. Her frail figure now weighed a tiny 26 pounds. But, thankfully, the dog’s vets expected her to make a full recovery.
Recalling the instant when Chloe returned, Osborne added, “It was a pretty emotional moment.” He told The Denver Post, “Even when she’s sitting next to me on the couch now, it’s still crazy to look at her, like, ‘How did you manage to do that?”
Celebration In Order
And following their reunion with Chloe, Osborne and Patel thought that it was only right to celebrate. “We went to the saloon and drank all night,” Smith told Summit Daily. “Pretty much the whole town came and thanked us.”
How Could They Repay Him?
Their good deed cemented Smith and Nichols’ place in the community, having recently moved to the area from Florida. “Everyone was just in shock,” Smith said. “They were giving me hugs and crying on my shoulder. It was pretty awesome, and now I have a whole bunch of Alma friends.”
A true survivor, Chloe has easily reacclimatized 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.