BOULDER CREEK (KPIX 5) — A blind dog that was lost in the Santa Cruz Mountains was missing for more than a week before someone found her.
Sage is back home now thanks to some luck, and a little kindness.
Sage and her owner Beth Cole are closer than ever.
The 12-year-old Labrador lost both eyes to glaucoma and suffered a recent tumor. And for eight days, the family dog was alone, lost in the thick woods and steep terrain of the Santa Cruz Mountains.
The family mistakenly thought she had been brought into the house, only to realize after about an hour outside, Sage was gone.
“It was horrible, we just didn’t know,” Cole said. “You know it was cold, she’s kind of helpless as far as being able to find her way back on her own.”
Stories of Sage’s disappearance spread on social media.
Desperate to find her, the family even hired a professional dog tracker from Southern California to search the dense woods. But after no sign of her, Cole had just about given up.
Until her next door neighbor spotted her near lifeless body near a shallow stream. He happened to be walking with a friend in the woods.
Boulder Creek resident Dan Estrada said, “I saw what I thought was a trash bag in the stream and as I looked a little bit closer, I could tell it was Sage, and the very moment I saw Sage, my heart fell into my stomach and I was overwhelmed with sadness because I knew at that point that it would be a body recovery.”
Estrada is a veteran firefighter and paramedic for the Livermore-Pleasanton Fire Department and this rescue was a bit different.
“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. And immediately she held her head up,” Estrada said.
He carried her over his shoulders about a 100 yards up the canyon. He believes the water from the creek likely saved her.
“If dogs could smile I think she was smiling at the time,” he said.
Fortunately, Sage is doing okay after a visit to the vet and back on her bed.
Cole said, “I think she was just waiting for us, and fortunately Dan came along.”
Estrada turned down the $1,000 reward, but he earned something else.
He said, “Sage definitely taught me a lesson of hope and a lesson of never to give up. I mean it’s something that we train to do all the time.”
Sometimes, a dog’s determination is the best reminder of that.
There will be a celebration for Sage at Joe’s Bar next Saturday in Boulder Creek. It’s a fundraiser to benefit the Santa Cruz County animal shelter.