VANCOUVER, WA (KPTV) – A dog was reunited with his Vancouver family on Sunday after being hit by a car and lost in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest for 31 days.
The 10-year-old Shiba Inu, named “Niko”, went missing in July during a camping trip east of Mt. St. Helens.
David Alt said he and a friend were at the campsite when they heard a car come screeching to a stop.
“Niko was off-leash just having a great time – checking in with us – then he went behind the trees, he went down to the road,” Alt said Thursday. “We heard this sudden stop of a car and so we ran down there, and he had this wild look in his eyes and darted off into the bushes.”
Alt said the driver told him she’d hit the dog and didn’t think the accident was survivable.
Alt didn’t see any blood and figured Niko ran away because he was disoriented and scared.
After searching for him, Alt eventually went home but spent the next month returning to the camp almost daily with his son and friends.
The family organized search parties, made posters, blasted social media and even put Niko’s bed out in the forest.
“We would go up there in the car and sleep at the base camp,” said Alt’s son, Caden Alt. “We would go around the trail and just yell out his name and we’d sleep there hoping in the morning that he would just be laying in his bed and we could pick him up and take him home.”
“At some points, hope was truly low, but it was never lost,” Caden added.
A Facebook post about Niko garnered hundreds of shares.
It was the encouraging messages from those who heard Niko’s story that kept them going.
The good news finally came on Sunday, when two men found Niko while staying at the same camp.
According to Alt, the men discovered Niko just 100 yards from the camp and knew the dog immediately.
Alt said the good Samaritans had seen Facebook posts about Niko being missing, as well as the dog bed and poster at the camp.
They brought Niko home Sunday.
“He was so skinny and so slow – one eye was shut – kind of just moving along, but it was him,” Alt said.
“Caden and I are crying,” Alt added. “They were crying. It was four grown men crying – it was great.”
“It was just like the best feeling ever and I don’t really know how to describe it,” Caden said. “It was just amazing to have Niko back.”
After his month in the wilderness, Niko lost 15 pounds, about a third of his body weight.
Alt said a veterinarian told them he might never regain all his muscle mass, but other than that, Niko is regaining weight and doing well.
“He’s a miracle. It’s amazing,” Caden said.
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