Barbara Bagley says she never gave up hope that her dog would be found alive in the Nevada desert after the animal bolted from the scene of a crash that critically injured her and killed her husband.
But the Salt Lake City woman endured plenty of frustration until her beloved 4-year-old Shetland sheepdog, Dooley, was tracked down Feb. 18 after surviving 53 days in the wild on roadkill and scattered ranch water sources.
``I would think about Dooley constantly,'' she said. ``There were TV commercials with dogs that made me think about him and cry. He's just the sweetest dog.''
The Dec. 27 single-vehicle accident on Interstate 80 near Battle Mountain, about 225 miles (360 kilometers) east of Reno, sent Bagley and her 55-year-old husband, Brad Vom Baur, to the hospital in critical condition. Their other sheltie, Delaney, was killed in the wreck. Dooley ran away and vanished.
Bagley, 48, suffered a concussion, broken ribs, a shattered wrist and two punctured lungs. As soon as she mustered up enough strength, she turned her attention to a search for her dog in the sprawling sage-covered plains and hills of northeastern Nevada.
Realizing what Dooley could mean for her recovery, dozens of Nevada volunteers responded to a Facebook plea for help in looking for him. But the search was canceled before it began after the Jan. 6 discovery of what appeared to be the dog's remains along the interstate. The same day, her husband died.
``It was a horrible day for me,'' Bagley recalled. ``But something inside me told me Dooley was still alive out there. I wasn't 100 percent sure, but I didn't grieve for Dooley like I did for my husband and our other dog.''
More than three weeks later, Bagley's spirits were buoyed after a woman reported spotting ``a Lassie-type'' dog near the accident scene. A subsequent search joined by Bagley turned up nothing, but a railroad crew spotted a dog matching the same description in mid-February in the same area about 15 miles (24 kilometers) east of Battle Mountain.
Further searches netted a positive identification of Dooley but frustration as well because the skittish dog kept fleeing from Bagley and other searchers. Finally, Shannon Sustacha of Lamoille, who was on horseback, and a Bagley friend driving a Jeep cornered Dooley only five miles (eight kilometers) from the crash scene. The friend managed to nab the sheltie and put him in the Jeep.
An ecstatic, tearful Bagley arrived at the scene a short time later.
``Barbara got next to us and said three times, `You think he'll remember me?''' Sustacha said. ``When Barbara opened the door and looked at him, she said, `My beautiful boy, my beautiful boy, you're home.' Oh, boy, all of us cried. I knew his adventure in Nevada was over. I also knew he and Barbara could start healing together.''
A short time later, an exhausted Dooley sat on his owner's lap in the Jeep and fell asleep. He later began following Bagley around.
``I was overjoyed that I was going to have him back in my life. I think he felt the same about me,'' she said.
During his ordeal, Dooley's weight dropped from 44 pounds (20 kilograms) to 20 pounds (nine kilograms). He was once spotted devouring a dead coyote along the roadway. A long bird bone was pulled from his throat by a veterinarian.
Since then, the dog has gradually put on weight and resumed regular walks with his owner. While Bagley is still going through the grieving process over her husband's death and recovering from her injuries, Dooley's presence has picked up her spirits immensely.
``He's the physical and mental affection that I need to recover,'' she said. ``I owe him so much for the hope I have now and the renewed faith I have in prayer. Dogs are so great because of their unconditional love.''
Bagley, a phlebotomy supervisor at LDS Hospital in Salt Lake City, also thinks her husband had something to do with Dooley's safe return home.
``It's a message from my husband who was looking out for him,'' Bagley said. ``It was a miracle that we got Dooley. He couldn't have survived much longer out there.'' (AP)
사막 교통사고서 53일만에 생환한 애견
자동차 사고에서 살아남아 사막을 헤맨 셔틀 랜드 쉽독 둘리의 `오디세이'가 53일 만에 주인과 재회하는 해피엔딩으로 끝났다.
미국 솔트레이크 시티에 사는 바버라 베이글리(48)는 지난해 12월27일 애견 두 마리를 태운 채 네브래스카주 랜더카운티의 배틀 마운틴 부근 고속도로를 달리다 교통사고를 당했다.
늑골와 손목 골절, 기흉 등 중상을 입은 그와 중태에 빠진 남편 브래드 봄 바우 어(55.사망)는 사고 직후 병원으로 후송됐다. 사고 현장에서 애견 딜라니가 죽은데다 열흘 뒤 남편이 사망하면서 베이글리에게 남은 희망은 사고 당시 살아남아 사막으로 사라진 둘리 뿐이었다.
페이스북을 통해 베이글리의 사연을 접한 사람들이 둘리를 찾아 나서기로 했지만 1월6일 둘리의 유해로 보이는 물체가 발견되면서 수색 작업은 취소됐다.
마침 그날 사경을 헤매던 남편이 세상을 떠나면서 베이글리는 죽음 같은 좌절에 빠졌지만 마음 한구석에서 `둘리는 아직 살아있다'는 미세한 음성을 들었다.
결국 지난달 중순 한 철도 근로자가 배틀 마운틴에서 동쪽으로 25km 떨어진 곳에서 둘리를 봤다는 구체적인 제보를 하면서 베이글리는 친구들과 함께 수색에 나섰 다.
둘리가 계속 이동하는 바람에 찾는데 애를 먹었지만 지난달 18일 사고 현장에서 불과 8km 떨어진 곳에서 베이글리의 친구가 `반쪽'이 된 둘리를 발견했다.
곧이어 현장으로 달려온 베이글리는 애견과 눈물의 재회를 했고, 탈진한 둘리는 주인의 무릎에서 이내 잠들었다.
53일간의 사막 생활을 버티는 동안 둘리의 몸무게는 20kg에서 9kg로 줄었다.
둘리의 목에서 발견된 새뼈로 미뤄 동물의 사체 등을 양식 삼아 버틴 것으로 추정됐다.
베이글리는 "둘리를 다시 찾은 것이 너무 기뻤고, 둘리도 나에 대해 그렇게 느낄 것으로 생각한다"며 "내가 지금 갖게 된 희망과 기도 속에 새롭게 한 신앙심 등 너무도 많은 것을 둘리에게 빚졌다"고 말했다.