The Cole family of California’s San Lorenzo Valley desperately searched for their 12-year-old Yellow Lab, Sage for more than a week. The blind senior had been missing for a full 7 unseasonably cold days, amid reports of mountain lion sightings.
They were devastated and wracked with guilt over her loss when suddenly, on the 8th day, a miracle occurred.
Neighbor and paramedic/EMT, Dan Estrada was hiking in the woods with his own two dogs and a friend when he spotted something light colored in a stream.
“At first I thought it was a garbage bag in the water,” Estrada told the Santa Cruz Sentinel. “My vision is not very good so it wasn’t until I got closer that I saw it’s actually a white lab laying there lifeless in this stream — her chin just above water level.”
At first his heart sank as he imagined carrying the body of the Cole family’s beloved dog back to them – then Sage raised her head! She was very wet and very exhausted, but very much alive! Estrada was overjoyed. He splashed into the stream and gathered Sage up in a big hug.
In true hero fashion, he draped the elderly cutie across his shoulders fireman-style and carried her out of the steep, muddy canyon where he met up with his sobbing family, neighbors, and of course, the Coles. There wasn’t a dry eye in the entire neighborhood. “Man, it was really emotional,” he said.
Estrada believes that he found Sage just in time. Not only was she too tired and weak to stand, heavy rains were moving in and she likely would have been swept away with the stream.
Beth Cole, Sage’s owner, is incredibly grateful to Estrada and all of her neighbors who helped in the search and reached out with gifts and well wishes once Sage was found.
“I can’t emphasize enough the amount of support we’ve received from everyone,” Cole said. “It’s been amazing. Since she’s returned home people have been bringing by snacks for her; one neighbor cooked her a steak.”
And it turns out Dan Estrada is no stranger to rescuing dogs. His own two pups – a Red-nosed Pit Bull named Coelsch and a “feisty, alpha male” Dachshund-Terrier Mix named Barnabus – were both adopted as strays while he was working for the Oakland Fire Department.
The Coles offered Estrada a $1,000 reward, but he declined, insisting that the money be donated to an animal welfare group instead. A celebration in Sage’s honor will be held at Joe’s Bar in Boulder Creek, CA on March 18. The event will raise funds for the Santa Cruz County Animal Shelter.
H/T to the Santa Cruz Sentinel
Featured Images via NBC Bay Area