“I love my pets to the moon and back,” said Cathy. "When my 10-year-old Red Setter, Murphy, went missing, I knew that I would never be a whole person again if I did not find him.”
She had followed her dream of moving to Cottage Grove and bought a home next to a great hiking area. Her dogs knew the hiking rule: “Stay within sight!” In years of exploring the logging roads, her dogs knew the area like the back of their paws. But one sunny day, at the end of winter, they were excited to stretch out their muscles on the trails. Almost immediately, the day took a dark turn.
"As we began the hike, all three of my dogs simultaneously jumped down into a steep ravine, ran after something and disappeared. When called, only Molly and Daisy returned. But not Murphy,” said Cathy. “It was like he had disappeared into thin air. There was no barking, no noise, just silence. It was alarming.”
Cathy phoned her neighbors and said, “Murphy may funnel down the ravine and come out at your ranch.” They told Cathy they would keep an eye out for him as their 20-year-old son (who wishes to remain anonymous) began searching. He searched from morning to night, described by his parents as being “on a mission and going to find Murphy if it killed him."
After searching for hours, feelings of dread swirled within Cathy with visions of Murphy frozen in the dropping temperatures, injured and being surrounded by predators. I’m almost 70 years old and I couldn’t eat or sleep. I was exhausted from the hiking miles in the forest, in rain.
Cathy reported his disappearance to the police station, KNND radio, vet clinics and the local humane society. In addition, her granddaughter put up flyers around town and Cathy’s yoga friends, Judy and Terry, listed Murphy’s disappearance on Cottage Grove’s “What's Going on in Cottage Grove” Facebook page. Cathy was offering a $500 reward.
“During the next three days, I could not eat or sleep. On the third day, I asked on Facebook for search party volunteers. Twelve people arrived; some I knew, some were total strangers — and one man came with a scent dog,” said Cathy. Just as we were about to set out, my neighbor’s son approached saying, ‘Are you looking for a dog?’ He then led me to Murphy curled up in a car!”
Murphy was exhausted and soaked to the bone, but alive. It was evident that he could not have made it another night.
“I collapsed to the ground crying, thanking and hugging everyone,” recalled Cathy. “My neighbor’s son kept his word. He found Murphy camouflaged up next to a cedar tree. The dog did not bark because he was nearly frozen. The young man had to carry my 71-pound-dog up a steep ravine where, luckily, he met the man whose car the dog was in. He then put Murphy in my vehicle for the trip to the vet clinic for a check-up and hydration.”
Both Murphy and Cathy are recovering. Her dog couldn’t walk for a few days but is slowly rebuilding his stamina. He also suffers with reoccurring bad dreams.
Cathy was not expecting this happy ending, so she wanted to say, “Thank you Cottage Grove! I love this town and am so glad we moved here. I am grateful for its awesome people! Thank you to a great community who came together when someone needed help. Your kindness brings tears to my eyes. I will be forever grateful and so will Murphy.”
The reward? Her neighbor’s brave and determined son refused it, insisting “This is what neighbors do for each other.”
TIPS: Cathy massaged Murphy's leg muscles, hamstrings and stretched his legs to help facilitate his healing.
What is your fur-avorite pet memory/adventure? [email protected]
Pet Tips and Tales on Facebook.
Adopt Loving Pets