The phrase "dog tired" couldn't have been more appropriate in the case of an exhausted canine rescued in deep snow, miles from home.
Brian Stewart and his teenage sons Erik and Tyler heard the dog's frantic bark Saturday morning during their annual backcountry snow camping trek. The Pendleton trio, along with two friends, had set up their pop-up wall tent on a plywood base southeast of Pilot Rock along Pearson Creek, and then climbed aboard snowmobiles for a long ride.
After 14 miles in rutted snow, they took a break at Granite Meadows. They removed their helmets and were taking a breather when a dog's bark broke the calm.
The boys investigated, cruising toward the noise on their snow machines. Expecting to find a dog playing with his owner, they instead discovered a bedraggled Airedale terrier all by himself struggling to move in the deep snow.
"We had been seeing tracks of something, but weren't sure what they were," Stewart said. "We followed them quite a ways."
Stewart sent the boys back to camp to fetch a sled. They loaded the dog and ferried him back to camp.
"I got the dog to the creek to get him some water," Stewart said. "He was drinking the water like he hadn't seen it in days. Then he was hurting and so tired he could not make it out of the creek."
Stewart helped him out and offered the dog some food.
"He ate it like it was going out of style," Stewart said.
They placed him inside a tent and turned up the portable heater.
"His feet were like ice," Stewart said. "We got him warmed up."
The dog drank more water and slowly revived. His tail started wagging. He is now tucked away at a farm near Birch Creek, the home of friends.
Stewart and his sons are seeking the dog's owner.
"This dog fought hard through three feet of snow for a few days," Stewart said. "He has a right to his owner."
Anyone with information about the dog's owner may call Stewart at 541-429-2489.
Contact Kathy Aney at email@example.com or 541-966-0810.
This story originally appeared in East Oregonian.