Dog found alive after a month lost on Mt. Seymour
Owner never gave up hope of finding Aniki
James Weldon, North Shore NewsPublished: Wednesday, August 01, 2007
A Vancouver man and his beloved dog were reunited Saturday after the canine spent nearly a month lost and alone in the North Shore wilderness.
The reunion was made possible by a lot of hard work, a lot of luck and — oddly — a set of lost keys.
Aniki, a four-year-old Rottweiler cross, vanished June 30 after owner Nam Hoang was forced to abandon the much-loved dog in a rugged area of Mount Seymour in order to save his own life.
Hoang had been walking Aniki and another dog on the mountain’s first peak when he was forced to turn around because of Aniki’s bad hip, which had recently undergone surgery. On the way down, Hoang inadvertently took a wrong turn and wound up descending into the Shone Creek drainage, one of the most arduous and dangerous areas of the North Shore.
They quickly got out of their depth, and within hours, Aniki, exhausted and in pain, collapsed. With the sun setting, and his dog unable to move, Hoang made the heartbreaking decision to leave Aniki there and continue on with the other dog, promising to return.
After a cold night spent on the mountain, Hoang emerged weak and dehydrated from the forest. He attempted to return for the dog but was unable to. Two friends went back to the mountain the following day, but were also forced to turn back, barely escaping the area themselves.
When the North Vancouver RCMP got wind of Hoang’s plight, they passed the story on to members of North Shore Rescue, who decided to help. Hoang offered to cover the substantial cost of a helicopter to fly two members — team leader Tim Jones and rescuer Doug Pope — into the area to track Aniki. After a full day of searching, the pair located the dog’s tracks, but found no sign of the missing pooch.
Over the following weeks, Hoang and other searchers returned to the mountain almost every day. With no trace of his cherished animal, Hoang’s hopes began to falter. “Honestly, after the third week, my hopes were shaken,” he said.
Then the impossible happened. On Saturday afternoon, Hoang received a call from North Shore Rescue. Aniki had been found alive.
Orson Moritz, a professor at the University of British Columbia, was hiking up the trail in search of some keys he had dropped earlier in the day, when he came upon the dog some 2 kilometres from where it had been lost. Moritz recognized Aniki from a poster. With the help of some other hikers, he managed to slip a rope around the dog’s neck and lead it down the mountain. On the way, he was met by Jones and other members of North Shore Rescue, who were hiking up in response to another reported sighting. Jones put the dog in his car, drove to his house and called Hoang, who rushed immediately to North Vancouver. The reunion was an emotional one.
“He was crying. They both leaned their heads together. They just stayed like that,” said Jones. “It was very touching, actually.”
For Hoang it was very simple. “He’s family,” he said. “You would do the same if he were one of your family members.”
Hoang took Aniki to a veterinarian, who pronounced the dog in good health. Aniki had lost 25 pounds, but was otherwise unharmed. The dog is recovering at home, and has already been out for walks.
“I feel a lot of relief,” said Hoang. “The worst part was not knowing if he was still alive.” Hoang credited a long list of Good Samaritans with the happy outcome.