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29 days on a mountain

July 30th, 2007, 03:39 AM
Vancouver Sun
Published: Monday, July 30, 2007

Aniki, a Rottweiler cross who spent 29 days wandering lost on Mount Seymour, owes his rescue to a string of strangers.
The four-year-old dog was found emaciated but in good spirits Saturday by a female hiker who spotted him on her way to Brockton Point on the mountain, which overlooks Vancouver, at about 4 p.m.
She petted him before notifying a maintenance worker on the mountain, who figured Aniki was the missing dog he was advised about earlier this month.
He paged North Shore Search and Rescue crews, who headed up the mountain and were met by a University of B.C. ophthalmologist leading Aniki down with a piece of rope.
"People actually found the dog and raised the alert," search and rescue coordinator Tim Jones said. "It was a textbook case of a dog rescue, where the public was engaged and they found the dog."
Nam Hoang, 35, had been hiking with Aniki and his Staffordshire terrier Yuki on June 30 when he became disoriented around Brockton Point and headed east down a decommissioned ski trail into Indian Arm.
The area is bordered by steep canyons, thickly wooded terrain and waterfalls and is not used for regular hikes or skiing.
"There's no reason to go into that area. It's easy to snap an ankle or break a leg," Jones said.
Aniki, who had previously been hit by a car and underwent an $11,000 operation to have a metal pin put in his left hip, struggled to continue and lay down at the top of the ridge.
Jones said Hoang, who had had a lung transplant, was worried about his own medical condition and was forced to leave Aniki on the ridge, while he and Yuki continued down the slope another three kilometres to Shone Creek.
When he got out the next day, Hoang told two friends, who went up the mountain to get Aniki. They failed to find him, but volunteers subsequently spent hundreds of hours looking for him.
North Shore Search and Rescue crews spent three days looking for Aniki in the dense brush. A helicopter company scoured the area for free even though Hoang offered to pay for it.
Susie Ranson, a North Vancouver RCMP dispatcher, and her husband Mike, went out every day to search for Aniki, while Jones spent hours on the mountain trying to find the Rottweiler.
"It's just tremendously incredible. People I don't even know volunteering their time," Hoang said. "We were very fortunate."
Hoang, an elementary school teacher, went to the mountain every day at sunrise and returned at sunset, hoping Aniki would catch his scent and follow it out.
Although the dog has lost 25 pounds, he is eating well and appears happy to be home, Hoang said. He said Aniki has an eye infection, but other than that, tests done by the vet showed nothing remiss.
"I'm relieved - four weeks is a long time," Hoang said, adding Aniki is part of the family. "He's emaciated but other than that he's doing really well. Believe it or not, he wants me to take him for walks again, but I think he needs some rest."
Jones said it appears the dog was wandering around the ridge area "waiting for the owner to show up."
"If the dog tried to get down in there, it wouldn't have survived," he said, referring to Shone Creek. "It would have fallen down the cliff and died."
He surmises the dog's calm personality as well as the temperature, available water sources and Aniki's ability to forage for deer droppings and shrubs likely helped him survive.
He may also have been fed by hikers in the area, he said.
UBC ophthalmologist Orson Moritz, who slipped the rope through Aniki's collar, said the dog was happy to follow him after he gave him a piece of a granola bar.
Moritz said he had lost his keys at Brockton Point and was on the way back to find them when he saw Aniki and recognized him from note on a signpost about a missing Rottweiler.
Meanwhile, Ranson, who described herself and her husband as "extreme animal lovers" said she was happy the search for Aniki is over and visited the dog at the vet's.
"What a spirit this dog has; he's just a survivor," she said. "We believe now he was waiting in the same area for his owner to come back - that's loyalty."

July 30th, 2007, 06:26 AM
Ahh another happy ending! Need those good news stories about Rotties to show people they are not all vicious.

July 31st, 2007, 02:28 AM
I live right close to the base of this mountain and have been desperately watching the area where we walk the dogs hoping to see a sign of this dog. I was so excited when I saw the news update yesterday and both hubby and I were crying we were so happy :cloud9: .