When a woman and her father were about to embark on their annual hike, neither could have imagined it would turn into a desperate back-breaking bid to save an injured dog.
By, 13 Nov 2019
Tia Vargas and her father Ted Kasper look forward to their annual father and daughter hiking trip they take together each year. But while they were braced for the 11,000ft peak they would have to tackle in the Grand Tetons, nothing could have prepared for them for the biggest challenge they would face on their trip.
During the hike, Ted, 76, had stopped to take a short rest, so Tia continued on ahead to reach the summit.
As she made her way back, she spotted an injured Springer Spaniel. The poor pup was limping along next to some hikers, but they weren’t its owners. In fact, no one knew who the dog belonged to.
Tia spotted that the there was a nametag on the dog’s collar that said “Boomer”.
The dog wasn’t in good shape and Tia quickly realised that he needed urgent medical help.
“His eyes were super puffy and bloodshot. His body was swollen, even his bum was very, very swollen,” She told PEOPLE.
“And you could tell he was very dehydrated. He had cuts and scratches on his belly and on his head. He was in bad condition.”
Tia realised that if the dog didn’t get off the mountain and see a vet he would certainly die. But the other hikers were carrying on to the summit of the mountain so were not able to help.
There was only Tia that could help Boomer.
But there was no way that Boomer would be able to walk down the mountain on his own. So Tia had no choice but to carry him.
Forced to carry dog
Tia had to crawl under the dog so she could hoist the 3.93st animal onto her shoulders. “I felt the difficulty of it right away. I never felt 55 pounds like that before,” she said.
Taking it step by step, Tia carefully headed down the mountain. As she met up with her rather surprised father, he took photos and said: “Isn’t this hike hard enough? You have to carry a dog too?”
For an incredible six miles, Tia carried Boomer on her shoulders. Every time she put the dog down so she could take a brief rest it was painful and she struggled to pick him back up again.
She desperately hoped that they would meet other hikers on the way that could help, but there wasn’t anyone else around that could share the load. As snow and trees had fallen, Tia and Ted lost the trail a couple of times. Tia’s dad suggested that he could go on ahead and try to find help, but understandably, Tia didn’t want to be left alone.
Prayer and jokes
“The thought of stopping crossed my mind once,” she said.
“My legs hurt and were shaking. When I wanted to quit is when I prayed. Prayer gave me strength. That and my dad’s jokes.”
Much to Tia’s relief, the three of them finally made it to the bottom of the trail.
They found a note that had been left by Boomer’s owner that had their contact details.
Boomer’s family were delighted when Tia phoned them. They explained that Boomer had fallen down a 100-foot cliff and rolled an incredible 200 feet. They had rushed after him and searched until dark, but he was gone. The family assumed that the poor dog had crawled off somewhere to die alone.
Understandably, the family’s first question for Tia was whether their dog was still alive. She heard the sound of a young boy crying in the background when he heard that his dog was alive.
New home for Boomer
But although the family were overjoyed to hear that Boomer was alive and had made it off the mountain, they were planning to move to Arizona, and wouldn’t be able to take Boomer with them.
They had already organised for a family to adopt the dog, but after speaking to Tia and hearing about everything she had done for Boomer, they wanted her to adopt him.
"One of my kids"
Tia’s daughters had been asking her if their family could adopt a dog, but Tia always said no. But meeting Boomer changed her mind. “They begged me for a dog and I was worried because it’s a lot of time and work. I told them no for so long. And I told them if we get a dog it would have to be dropped in my lap and already trained. And he is both of those and so much more. He feels like one of my kids now,” she said.
Boomer has become such an important part of the family, he was even thrown a 5th birthday party.
On the mend
After his experiences on the mountain, Boomer had to go to the vet. They found he had a dislocated joint with torn ligaments in his leg. Boomer may need surgery, but the vet is hopeful that the joint will simply heal on its own.
Whether or not Boomer needs surgery, it’s clear he’s found himself a happy home and a family who will certainly carry him through anything.