When a Californian family realized their beloved 12-year-old dog, Sage, was missing they were devastated. “It was horrible. We just didn’t know,” said Sage’s owner, Beth. Beth and her family live in the mountains of California near dense woods, and the family feared Sage would never be able to make it home again. “You know, it was cold, she’s kind of helpless as far as being able to find her way back on her own.”
They were especially worried since Sage is not only a senior dog, but she is also totally blind. She lost both her eyes to glaucoma and a recent tumor. The family even hired a professional dog tracker to search for Sage, but after 8 days with no sign of Sage, Beth was beginning to lose all hope.
Then, over a week after Sage disappeared, a next-door neighbor named Dan Estrada decided to go with a friend for a walk in the woods that changed everything.
As Dan and his friend walked, he noticed something stuck in a stream. “I saw what I thought was a trash bag in the stream,” recalled Dan, “and as I looked a little bit closer, I could tell it was Sage.”
Sage’s body was motionless, and Dan– who is a veteran firefighter and paramedic– felt certain he’d found her too late. “The very moment I saw Sage, my heart fell into my stomach and I was overwhelmed with sadness, because I knew at that point it would be a body recovery.”
It turns out, Sage had gotten herself stuck at the bottom of a steep hill. The slippery terrain made it impossible for the senior dog to get back out on her own.
“As soon as I saw her in the stream, I ran to her, and I just dropped right there in the water, and I wrapped my arms around her and I gave her a big hug and a kiss,” said Dan. “And immediately she held her head up.”
Once Dan realized Sage was alive, he pulled her up onto his shoulders and carried her home, about 100 yards up a canyon. Dan’s friends snapped photos of the rescue.
“If dogs could smile, I think she was smiling at the time,” he said.
Sage’s family was overjoyed to have her home, and they offered Dan a $1,000 reward.
Dan refused to accept the money, so the family instead donated half that amount to a humanitarian foundation and half of it to an animal organization. The only thing Dan got in return for his selfless rescue was this lesson: “Sage definitely taught me a lesson of hope and a lesson of never to give up.”
Thanks to Dan, Sage is happy to be home and doing fine!
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