Skooter reporting 03/05/12
The dog bolted from the scene of a crash that seriously injured Barbara Bagley, 48, and killed her husband, Brad Vom Baur, 55. Bagley never gave up hope that her dog Dooley would be found alive in the Nevada desert. The Salt Lake City woman suffered lots of disappointment until her dear 4-year-old Shetland sheepdog was traced down Feb. 18 after surviving 53 days in the wild.
"I would think about Dooley constantly," she said. "There were TV commercials with dogs that made me think about him and cry. He's just the sweetest dog."
The ordeal began on Dec. 27 when a single-vehicle accident on Interstate 80 near Battle Mountain, about 225 miles east of Reno, sent Bagley and her husband, Brad Vom Baur, to the hospital in serious condition. There were two sheltie, one named Delaney, was killed in the accident while Dooley ran away and disappeared.
Bagley experienced a concussion, broken ribs, a shattered wrist and two punctured lungs. As soon as she gathered enough strength, she started to search for Dooley in the sage-covered plains and hills of northeastern Nevada.
Knowing what Dooley could mean for her recovery, dozens of Nevada volunteers took action to a Facebook appeal for help in looking for the dog. But then the search was canceled before it began after the Jan. 6 report that a dog’s remains were discovered along the interstate. The same day, her husband died.
"It was a horrible day for me," Bagley recalled. "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."
Bagley’s enthusiasms were lifted up more than three weeks later after a woman reported that she saw "a Lassie-type" dog near the accident scene. A follow up search joined by Bagley turned up nothing, but then a railroad crew eyed a dog matching the same description in mid-February in the same area about 15 miles east of Battle Mountain.
More searches were launched and gained a positive identification of Dooley but there was a disappointment because the edgy dog kept running away from Bagley and other searchers. Eventually, Shannon Sustacha of Lamoille, who was on horseback, and a Bagley friend driving a Jeep pinned down Dooley only five miles from the crash scene. The friend managed to grabbed the sheltie and put him in the Jeep.
An overjoyed, tearful Bagley arrived at the scene a short time later.
"Barbara got next to us and said three times, `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."
A moment later, a worn out Dooley sat on his owner's lap in the Jeep and fell asleep. The dog later began following Bagley around.
"I was overjoyed that I was going to have him back in my life. I think he felt the same about me," she said.
During his torment, Dooley lost weight from 44 pounds to 20 pounds. He was seen once devouring a dead coyote along the roadway. A veterinarian pulled out a long bird bone from his throat.
From then on, the dog has dramatically put on weight and resumed regular walks with his owner. Dooley’s presence has lifted-up Bagley’s spirits tremendously while she was still going through the grieving process over her husband's death and recuperating from her injuries.
"He's the physical and mental affection that I need to recover," she said. "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 works as a phlebotomy supervisor at Latter Day Saints Hospital in Salt Lake City, and she thinks her husband had made this thing happened in connection with Dooley's safe return home.
"It's a message from my husband who was looking out for him," Bagley said. "It was a miracle that we got Dooley. He couldn't have survived much longer out there."
Source: Daily Herald