I am pretty sure that this news story has turned into a nationwide sensation, but in case it is only circulating in Colorado, let me fill you in on the details.
The story begins a few weeks back when a local hiker was climbing the Sawtooth Ridge between Mt. Evans and Mt. Bierstadt, two 14ers here in Colorado. If you’ve read my blog for awhile, you may remember my post last summer when I climbed the exact same ridge. In fact, the Sawtooth is considered a *classic* climb when speaking of any 14er routes. The rock is solid, there is a bit of exposure but nothing crazy, and it provides hikers with a little introductory prep before attempting some of the more technical climbs on other 14ers. For this reason, I love the route.
|The Sawtooth Ridge|
However, the one drawback to the Sawtooth is the fact that poor Tals cannot come. The route is too technical at a class 3, and any time I see a route that may involve my hands (instead of only my feet), I know that it is not suitable for dogs. Period.
Apparently, Anthony Ortalani didn’t feel the same way, and took his dog Missy, an adorable German Shepherd, on the hike with him. Missy’s paws blistered while she was hiking the ridge with Ortalani, and she could no longer walk. I’m not going into details about how this guy is an idiot for taking his poor dog on the ridge to begin with; what’s done is done. However, once Missy’s paws burned and blistered (a common problem on 14ers– the same thing happened to Tals here!), he chose to abandon her on the ridge. A storm was blowing in and when he realized Missy couldn’t walk, he just left her there.
That in itself is a touchy subject with me. Clearly, this man was not prepared to be on a 14er and he demonstrated that by taking his dog on a route that she had no way to navigate. This should have been common knowledge. I know this route is impossible for dogs to cross; in fact, I was stuck in a similar situation back in 2004. We found a couple stranded on the ridge because their dog had panicked and they couldn’t get her down. We spent the rest of the day caravanning the poor pup to the basin below.
|The pic of Missy that was circulated on the web. Source.|
However, I do begrudgingly understand that Ortalani needed to get off the ridge with the storm, so I suppose I can understand his need for self-preservation, even if it came at the expense of Missy. He even contacted search-and-rescue but was told that they didn’t deal with animal rescues. Unfortunately, I can somewhat stomach the story up until this point. But the kicker? He never came back for his dog. Not the next day, not ever. He left Missy on the ridge, assuming she didn’t survive the bad weather that rolled in.
A few days later, a couple different hikers crossed the ridge and found Missy. They were unable to get the poor dog down, but they took a picture of her and placed it on 14ers website, detailing where she was. Immediately, a group of good samaritans got together to attempt a rescue mission of Missy. On August 6, eight men headed up to the Sawtooth in order to save Missy.
It took them all day, but they eventually got the German Shepherd off the ridge and down to safety. These men even managed to get her down through a snow squall! They took her to the vet where they were told that she suffered from severe dehydration and multiple injuries to her paws. Missy had survived eight days on the ridge.
However, now that Missy is down, recovering, and safe, Ortalani wants her back. And as of today, he now faces animal cruelty charges because of the way he abandoned her. The story has been circulating Colorado like wildfire because it covers two things that are very special to natives: dogs and 14ers. Practically everyone in this state owns at least one of the former, and the latter are Colorado’s claim to fame.
|The group that got Missy down. Source.|
When I first heard this story and saw the above picture of Missy, it almost broke my heart. Y’all know how incredibly special Tally is to me and I literally cannot fathom abandoning her on the ridge. Even if I force myself to consider leaving her somewhere due to personal safety, there is no chance in hell that I wouldn’t be back up there first thing the very next morning to find her. I find it horrifying that this man honestly thinks he should get his dog back, after leaving her to die at 13,000+ feet, for over a week. In fact, it absolutely infuriates me. I understand that he did what he needed to do; however, I don’t understand why he didn’t come back for her?