Barbara Bagley's dog Dooley, a four-year-old Shetland sheepdog, ran away from a car crash scene in which Bagley was injured and her husband killed. The dog was finally tracked down on February 18 after living in the wild for 53 days.
AP reports that the woman from Salt Lake City, was involved with her husband, 55-year-old Brad Vom Baur, in an accident on Interstate 80 near Battle Mountain, 225 miles east of Reno. She and her husband were severely injured and were in critical condition in the hospital. Bagley, 48, suffered a concussion, broken ribs, a shattered wrist and two punctured lungs.
Dooley escaped from the accident and disappeared. The other dog in the car, a sheltie named Delaney, died in the accident.
As soon as Bagley felt better, she sent out a plea for her dog to be found, and Nevada volunteers responded to her Facebook plea for help. Bagley, a phlebotomy supervisor at LDS Hospital in Salt Lake City, said: "I would think about Dooley constantly. There were TV commercials with dogs that made me think about him and cry. He's just the sweetest dog."
A dog's remains was found on January 6 along the interstate and it was believed to be Dooley's. The search was canceled. Bagley, whose husband died the same day, said: "It was a horrible day for me. 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."
About three weeks later, a woman reported seeing a "a Lassie-type" dog near the accident scene. Bagley's hopes were renewed. She joined in an unsuccessful search. But soon after, a railroad crew reported seeing a dog matching the description in mid-February in an area about 15 miles east of Battle Mountain.
Search was renewed after a positive identification, and after a long frustrating search, Shannon Sustacha of Lamoille, on horseback, and a friend of the Bagleys' found Dooley five miles from the crash scene. Bagley was called immediately.
According to Sustacha, Bagley kept asking: "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."
AP reports that during the period Dooley roamed the Nevada desert area, he dropped in weight from 44 pounds to 20 pounds. He survived by scavenging and drinking from ranch water sources. He was once seen eating a coyote corpse. A veterinarian pulled a bird bone from his throat.
AP notes Bagley's reunion with Dooley is helping her recover from her injuries and loss of her husband. She said: "He's the physical and mental affection that I need to recover. 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 believes her dead husband helped in returning Dooley safely back home: "It's a message from my husband who was looking out for him. It was a miracle that we got Dooley. He couldn't have survived much longer out there."
Dogster.com welcomed Dooley back home, saying: "...a great story to illustrate the power of hope. If Bagley hadn’t had hope, it probably would have been too late when, and if, Dooley was ever found. Welcome back, Dooley, and eat lots and lots of food, and keep Robin very good company, please. She needs you now more than ever."