Dog Stays By Fallen Hiker

Her Barking Helps Searchers Find Him
By Karen B. London PhD, April 2019

Daisy in the woods where she and her guardian were found

Daisy went hiking with her guardian regularly, but this time, it did not end well. Sadly, the 64-old man from Washington sustained fatal injuries from a fall. Members of the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department of Search and Rescue credit his dog, Daisy, for helping them to find him.

Authorities were alerted to the missing man and dog when his wife called 911 to report that they had gone hiking and had not returned. Authorities found a list in his car of geocaches he planned to visit and deployed people to search each one.

The newest member of the Search and Rescue group heard a dog barking while he was searching his assigned area and was able to follow the sound until he saw a dog who matched Daisy’s description. Due to the steepness and heavy vegetation in the area, it took him another half an hour to reach the dog, where he found the body of the lost hiker.

The department issued a statement that included this comment, “Without the barking of his loyal companion Daisy, we never would have located the missing man.”

Obviously, it is tragic that the man died, but that does not take away from the loyalty and the helpful actions (whether intended or not) of the dog. Her behavior allowed the searchers to locate her guardian. While his life was still lost, the search was successful, which means that the family does not have to forever wonder what happened. It also means that Daisy was found in good condition, which may not have been the case if she had remained there for a much longer time. Additionally, the quick search allows the department’s resources to be devoted to other cases and people in need.

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Though it’s natural to focus on the great services of the dog, I wonder about the events from her perspective. It was likely a harrowing experience for her to be with her deceased guardian but otherwise alone in the woods. Hopefully, Daisy and her other guardian will offer solace to one another after losing the man they loved to such an unfortunate accident.

Karen B. London, PhD, is a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist and Certified Professional Dog Trainer who specializes in working with dogs with serious behavioral problems, including aggression. She has authored five books on canine training and behavior.

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