Blind dog miraculously found alive after 7 nights lost in Santa Cruz Mountains

BOULDER CREEK, Calif. -- It could be called a canine miracle in the Santa Cruz Mountains -- a blind dog was found alive after disappearing into the cold, wet woods for seven nights.

"It was horrible," said Sage's owner Beth Cole. "We were so heartbroken and just feeling so bad that she was out there."

Sage is a 12-year-old yellow lab who lost both her eyes to health problems. On Feb. 24, the blind dog wandered away from her Boulder Creek home.

"We had so many people helping with the search. We had signs up, we had it posted everywhere," said Cole.

It seemed as if Sage had disappeared. The Coles even brought in a handler with a tracking dog to no avail. After seven nights, they'd all but given up hope.

Their neighbor Dan Estrada, a firefighter, had helped in the search, but that's not why he was in the woods Saturday. He was taking a friend from out of town on a hike.
"And while we were hanging out talking, next thing you know, I look over and see Sage laying on the ground right with her head in the stream," Estrada told KGO-TV.

He thought she was dead, but then -- she lifted her head.

"I jumped in the stream, I was super happy," Estrada said. "I put my arms around her and hugged her and threw her over my shoulders and carried her up the mountain."

Estrada carried Sage on his back about 100 yards up a canyon to safety.

"I was hugging everybody, you know, his friend, him, my son, Sage you know," Cole added. "It was just amazing."

Some would say it was a miracle.

"It's been harsh conditions and that dog had such a strong will to live," Estrada continued. "And I think everybody has a lesson to be learned from that: Don't give up."

In honor of Sage's survival, Estrada and his friend made seven custom leather leashes, one for each night she was missing. They'll be raffled off at a fundraiser for the humane society.

The Cole's wanted to give Estrada the $1,000 reward they'd been offering for Sage, but he refused. He suggested that the money should go to charity. The Coles are donating the money.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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