LEHI, Utah -- A Lehi family was reunited with a family pet after the dog went missing in the Utah wilderness for more than six weeks.
“It is truly a miracle that she is in the backyard where she belongs and I think we are still not hardly believing it,” said Kathy Anderson.
Anderson had lost all hope that she would ever hug, nuzzle or pet her Chocolate Labrador, Maddi, ever again.
“It’s the unknown that plays with your mind you know, you assume the worst,” Anderson said.
Fifteen-year-old Maddi, and her 13-year-old son Jake, were on a hunting trip in Duchesne County with family on Oct. 5, when Maddi disappeared.
“We searched for days, we put fliers in every gas station and restaurant that we could,” Anderson said. “I had a list of veterinarians and shelters from Roosevelt to Heber that I called weekly.”
Eventually, Anderson decided it was time to move on.
“I was just driving myself crazy so I just had to let it go and know that hopefully she is in a better place,” she said.
Maddi’s absence was the toughest on Jake, who had never spent a day away from his mom.
“Heartbroken, just howls and cries and paces, it was almost as sad to see him going through what he was going through as it was to lose Maddi,” Anderson said.
Then on Nov. 27, almost two months after Maddi was last seen, a friend of the family saw a post on Facebook with a picture of a lost dog discovered in a backyard in Ioka.
“I knew it was Maddi, there was no question in my mind, I would recognize that little face anywhere,” Anderson said.
Somehow Maddi trekked about 65 miles across Duchesne County, from the Pariette Wetlands to the small town of Ioka. She managed to survive without food or water, in freezing temperatures and the constant threat of coyotes.
“In my mind I was thinking what has she been through, how awful all the things that have happened to her,” Anderson said.
It turns out the yard Maddi stumbled into was owned by a couple by the name of Clint and Gail Crowley, who cared for Maddi for about a week, before their Facebook post was answered.
“Sweet people and just appreciate them and love them for their kindness,” Anderson said.
Maddi is now back home in Lehi, reunited with her human family, as well as her canine family.
Her miraculous, and most likely terrifying journey, is still very evident. Maddi lost about 25 pounds, yet it’s her emotional state that’s most frail.
“She is very traumatized, and very shy and skittish, which is not her nature but she is coming around,” Anderson said. “There really is no way she could have survived all that she survived.”
Anderson said she wants Maddi’s story to inspire others to never give up hope and happy endings are possible.