Today’s Topic: Bella’s Utah Mountain Rescue - The Little Dog That Brought the Globe to Prayer
I’ve recently been through something that has forever altered me. I wanted to tell you the story of what happened but, since this is a podcast about writing a book, I wanted to keep it in alignment with the theme of book publishing. Everyone that witnessed the event told me I have the next book and I have to write about it. But, you know… its hard to think about that at the moment as I’m still digesting what happened out there on that mountain last Monday night.
It’s always my goal to try to keep topics in alignment with the topic of writing a book for this podcast. I’ve mentioned it before that my life seems to always be a bit too grand to keep that focus and I’ve talked about developing a completely new podcast, but because there are so many dynamics always in great flux in my life it’s hard to know how to position everything under one functional umbrella. I have books on a variety of topics and life experiences that take me all over the board. I guess that, despite my best wishes to have a quiet life, I have many dynamic life experiences that often get hard to lump into one topic. As life goes on I keep learning toward the umbrella of just using my name and that would open me up to many topics. Although, it’s my business of helping people write books that is my functional business income. Perhaps you can relate?
Perhaps you’ve looked into brand positioning and buying your name URL as an umbrella for all you do. That also made the most sense to me but, my name URL is taken, so I’ve always had to default to using my middle name from the moment I launched my first book. It would be far easier to just use first and last name as my URL, but when that isn’t possible you have to get a bit more creative. In fact, I even had a client going through a bit of an identity crisis when she no longer wished to be referred to with her ex-husbands surname but this is how everyone knew her. The fact is that if you have a message meaningful enough, people will find you no matter what you call yourself by name.
As you start to pull things together for the brand of your books, these are things to think about. If you can do it, its always easiest to get your name URL and place everything under that umbrella right from the beginning. It gets a bit more challenging as time goes on to re-work things as you start to build your awareness. And your name allows you to not just sell books you write, but to identify (or even capitalize) the themes throughout your life as life happens.
In the case of the story I’m about to tell you, this isn’t a story that directly relates to my business, probably doesn’t do anything to build my brand, but it is a story worth telling and if I were to move the story into a book there would be many points where the story would interweave into many other threads in my life. The story holds it’s own so it might be a chapter in a new book about restoring humanity or believing in miracles, or holding faith. There are many ways a story can be intertwined with the main topics of title of your book.
Generally, as I share information on my podcast or with my clients, it’s my goal to understand what success means to each client. Most of the time a client wants to, at minimum, get a return on their investment when they write a book. Therefore, my message has always been one that enhances aligning your book with your passion and purpose. But, sometimes, and in the case of the story I’m about to tell you, the story is just far bigger than any return on investment for producing it and it may have absolutely nothing to do with business. So, this is the point where you have to ask yourself, how badly do you want to write that book that doesn’t have an obvious link to a return on investment. It may have no link to your business income or well-being but, as they say…the show must go on! Is it still worth the investment? I guess this is a bit like writing a novel, right? A novel is going to probably have nothing to do with your day job unless your trying to be a full time author. It may not sell or barely break even. But, where are you in your level of passion and purpose for telling the story?
As someone with a story that literally wrote itself… at the expense of many individual’s well-being, it’s hard to know how it aligns purposefully and profitably to get a return on the large investment of both time and money. But, when everyone that hears the story tells you to write about it, then perhaps that’s all the motivation you need to manifest a purposeful manuscript.
In the case of my story, people really became very drawn in as it was happening live on social media. There was a lot of support and many people with eyes on. It was never my intent when sharing on social media to create an audience as spectators however. My real intent was to ask for prayers and help and it was the quickest and easiest way I knew how to do that. But, now that the event has occurred, I’ve been digesting it and seeing it from different angels… not really sure how to approach telling the story and aligning it with a podcast about writing a book. So, without further adieu, let me tell you the story, then we will talk about it a bit (and how this would look as a book) before we conclude.
I’ve had some people following me for many years on social media and they know about my love of dogs. I’ve also had many read my first three books that have stories about my canine companions intertwined throughout. So many have watched my babies depart from my life over the years and have watched the adventures of my current three for the last nine years of their lives. Like, in the first 8 months when we had our first tragedy back home in Maui Hawaii. Bella was a day before her eye surgery and slid off the side of a 200’ cliffside mountain and landed on a small ledge and after an overnight and several more morning hours (14 total hours of waiting) she was finally helicopter rescued. It was a traumatic event for me that forever altered my life. She would earn the name “Mirabella” as a result. I would have never imagined that I would ever have to re-live anything quite so traumatic again, until I did!
My three dogs and I headed out on a roadtrip to help a friend with a major surgery on March 9th. We would go seamlessly nearly all the way across the country from Michigan to Wyoming. But, I took notice in Nebraska just before we were entering Wyoming that millions upon millions of birds were flying east and we were going west. I would watch them forming black clouds in the skies above for miles upon miles as I drove. I began talking to God as I drove. Why God? Is there an oncoming earth event and I am being shown to proceed no further? I said you’re going to have to confirm this for me and let me know if we should continue. Not much further ahead we would learn that the entire interstate (I-80) was completely shut down and impassable from Laramie into Rawlins, Woming. We would be grounded in a hotel in Laramie til the next morning.
I talked to God that night and asked for clear signs. Should I get on that highway in the morning and continue if it opens or should I turn around? I decided if it was closed I was simply not meant to go through. But, it opened around midnight and all the backed up semi trucks were mostly cleared by the time I would approach to enter. I got on the highway and continued into Utah. I would reach my friends home and final destination earlier than expected. The dogs and I were far too tired for a walk and simply went to bed after a quick dinner.
The morning came and it was the day prior to my friends surgery and we decided it would be nice to go far out of town and take a nice very off-the-beaten-path walk in the Utah dessert in a little place off the side of I-80 called Delle. There isn’t much there but a gas station and a myriad of off road and other dirt trail systems. We had been out there many times before when I used to live in Utah several years ago. But, it had been quite some time since we had been out there and the roads were very muddy and we stopped at the most accessible out or reach place we could get to and parked and walked into the trails for a nice hike. After all the driving we knew the dogs would love the fresh air and it’s very unusual they are ever allowed off leash. But, all the days on the road felt like they needed to be rewarded with some off-leash time. The land is vast and open so we could see for miles in many directions.
At the end of the walk we got two of them in the car, but Bella walked ahead and when we reached out for her to put in her, it was as if she had simply evaporated. She was no where to be seen for all those miles in every direction. We called and called for her with no response. Finally the sun was falling and the rain was about to come in. We got in the car and drove in all four directions at the 4-way intersection ahead. We called and clapped and whistled but nothing! I began to think the worst. As fast as she vanished I wondered if we had wild cat lurking around where we had parked the car and it quickly nabbed her and ran off. We didn’t see anything indicating a direction she went or something she chased. She was just gone!
After some time of driving around we finally heard some barking and got out of the car and headed in the direction it was coming from. Sure enough, as we got closer, it was most definitely barking and most definitely Bella. But, it was moving up the mountain to the range top so fast it was confusing to witness. Was she really moving on her own accord that fast or was she being carried?
She would seemingly be transported to the top of the range and that is where the barking stopped. The rain had been pouring down and now a large full rainbow appeared as we stood at the top of the ridge and the sun began to set. My friend would go over the ridge after her and I would go down to the car that was left running with the other two dogs in it. It would soon be dark and the car was almost out of gas. As my friend worked down the back of the mountain I would make my way over to the gas station to fill up before it closed. Unfortunately, I got there and it was closed but the pumps were left on and there I stood with no credit cards! Where did they go?
It was cold and rainy and now nearly dark and I was out there all alone with no way to pay for gas. I had to get back in and get my friend and I knew I might be out there all night awaiting Bella’s return. I must have dropped everything out of my wallet in all that hiking and movement to the top of the range. Now what? I thought, ok do I wait for someone to pull up and see if they will buy me gas?
I decided to look around in the car for any cash or perhaps I happened to had a card somewhere that I forgot about. Sure enough, there was a card in a baggie that I had used to buy gardening supplies for mom last summer. Let’s hope mom’s card works I thought as I swiped it through. Sure enough, moms card saved the whole night! I was able to get a full tank and drove back in to meet my friend and see if Bella was there too. Wherever one came out the other might have as well. But, there was an SUV approaching me slowly waving me down and it was my friend who got picked up on the way out by someone that lived out there in a 5th wheel. But, there was still no Bella.
It became more and more apparent that Bella might not have survived that climb and my friend had to get home for surgery the next morning. That was the only thing they wanted and I was negotiating that I would be going nowhere when time is of the essence with Bella. I realized immediately that I needed some help. I called 911 and talked to a sheriff that agreed to come out and pick up my friend but not to help me with Bella. In fact he said “well good luck and don’t get stuck out there” and took off with my friend to a nearby hotel where they could catch a taxi and get a ride an hour and a half back to town.
So there I was by myself in the cold, dark, and rain with two tired and hungry dogs and we had nothing but four bottles of water for the night. There was no way that I was sleeping so I got in the spot where she took off from and waiting and while I did I started finding lost Utah dog pages and posted my pinned location and a brief story of what occurred.
Early that first morning I was contacted by a woman named Dawn. She wanted to know what she can do to help me. I said, well… I have been up all night doing research and I heard I have to buy a grill and charcoal and cook meat to draw her out if she is still alive. The problem is that I’m 3 hours round trip to the HomeDepot where I ordered it. I placed the curbside order in hopes of making a quick trip back into the city to grab the essentials and this order because I knew this might be awhile. But, my new friend Dawn not only offered to pick up my order but to come out with everything a girl in a spontaneous camp out might need. She brought me and the dogs food. She brought blankets and soap and toothpaste and Kleenex and toilet paper and mace and even what extra meat she had in the refrigerator to start immediately cooking. She picked up my Home Depot order and came out and helped put the grill together and she then contacted her two sons with military training in search and rescue. They came out with a side by side and optics glasses to see movement. They handed me a walkie talkie and out they went like they had done this before. They told me to sit in a warm car and relax and they will let me know what they find. I finally had a moment to breathe as I was comforted that I had more eyes on and I could relax for a few moments. I hadn’t slept even an hour that night. The kind of gift this kind of showing up gives a person in need is one of the greatest gifts I have ever received . I finally took a deep breath and readjusted and refocused on what was occurring in front of me. There is a balance of action and smart thought that is needed and making these calls when you are in charge and a life depends on it are tough calls. I sat there thinking, now what? How do I do this smarter? What am I missing? How do I get the help I need?
Before I knew it there were people calling and messaging in every direction. I was a bit worried this would happen and that is why with every posting I placed a pin of my location. I asked people to help me responding and placing ads on the lost dog pages, not contacting me unless they were coming out. I said I placed a pin and if you can come out please do but I can’t respond to every message and still keep out there looking. So people called and came and drove around and reported no sightings. New people came and went and some returned twice. But there were moments when I was out there all by myself with two dogs in the car and exhausted and I knew I couldn’t just sit there waiting for her return but I was too tired to do anything different. When someone showed up it gave me hope and a renewed spirit.
If you ever find yourself in this situation of wondering if and how you can help, you have to know you aren’t going to get much guidance from the person experiencing the trauma and if you want to help you just have to show up. Think what a person might need and just be there. There’s a point of confusion and exhaustion and being there is the greatest gift you can offer.
The first night a person called a “tracker” contacted me. I had no idea such a role existed. She found me through my postings somehow. She contacted me right at the beginning and came out immediately to create a feeding station. This is a place with a camera and usually a trap to catch the animal eating and it’s not only tracked by a motion censored camera but highlighted with the smell of liquid smoke and chicken broth and a bowl full of food is left. She also came out with neon poster board and a printed picture of Bella, packing tape, and a staple gun and spotlight. She educated all of us there how to find, track, and communicate with Bella if we saw her. She explained how a dog shifts into fight or flight and how their character changes. She also let us know that dogs usually don’t go more than a few miles from where they took off from. She gave us many stories of rescues and how dogs learn to adapt to the elements. Some of these stories even had dogs being found weeks later and in much colder weather. It did give us all some hope. Although nothing she gave us helped for all the days we were out there til the last day.
Two days and nights went by and the weather was shifting in the evenings. It was raining and it turned to ice and snow one night. This was the hardest night I was out there. I knew if she was on that ridge it was much much colder up there and it was so cold down where I was parked I didn’t want to go out there for any reason but her!
She was born and raised in Hawaii. I didn’t know if she could handle that kind of cold. Bella is known to spend her days and nights laying in front of a heater. All I could think about is how I would roll over in the night and cover her tighter in her blanket next to me in bed… and there she was out there in the pelting down snow and ice and tremendous winds. That was the night I went into a fetal position and cried like I’ve never cried before! I had to come to grips with the reality I may never see her again. I was lacking sleep and literally began hallucinating that night. I don’t know where I was that night but I was not in the same place I originally parked. I was transported somewhere else. It felt like a completely different place. Nothing looked familiar. I lost sight of where my car was parked, what state I was in, how I even got there, and was confused about why I was all alone in the dark. I also lost track of the earth experience I was having. I became so removed from my own identity. I lost touch with where home was, who might or might not be there for me in a place known as home. Home became so foreign to me. There was no one looking for me to return to them. A feeling of desperate loneliness came over, yet I was in some kind of container of what I will refer to as the all that is…a thread in the tapestry of the infinite. I was floating in this vastness crying my heart out for all the moments in life where it was only me… where the teachings have been so big and painful and so moving that God said you must do these alone. In that darkness how I longed for a meaningful partnership of true love and to be held and comforted in conscious awareness and purposeful connection. There I was in the vast aloneness, seeking a confirmation that yes, all this pain in this lifetime has been designed as an assignment with a resolute outcome for soul advancement. Its all been too painful to think it would be anything less than.
I panned through my life that night thinking…how many have walked away when the lessons have been too daunting for those we are in relationship with? How many have been there with an understanding that the magnitude of challenge has value and purpose? How many have understood the moments in life that are up for God’s judgement? When something massive shakes your life where do you go to find peace?
The winds were howling outside and my heart was breaking inside. I was reminded that I have once talked to the winds… the spirits of the winds. North, south, east, west, to the heavens, and to the land. I was trained as a shaman to know that I am one with what’s happening outside my car window. The winds were howling so strong from the north. We were trained this is our ancestors… our Grandmothers and Grandfathers, the Ancient Ones. We have been taught to honor those who have come before us, those who will come after us, and our children’s children. As I connected to the winds of the north my first thought was “why are you so angry?” I listened. I heard. It comes down to disrespecting one another. As I’m out there with Bella I’m wondering about how these angry winds are involved in our situation. Have we not been honoring our ancestors? Are we the catalyst of change needed to alter how these dynamics work for others or is this just for us because this moment is what we are personally experiencing? My answer was that at this moment we need to make a change within to alter the outcome in our favor. Can I talk to the winds to calm the aggression? I began to think it would be helpful to gain some assistance from the southern winds. We were trained as shaman to know what blows from the south is what we shed from our past. Perhaps I needed to let go of the pain from my past (and gosh there has been so much). Perhaps I needed to free myself and give myself permission to just let it lie where it is. To be ok with no apologies, to no longer make myself a prisoner or other peoples actions, to let go of victimhood, and to accept that I may have merely been a trigger to others misbehaviors and release fault or attachment to outcomes.
As I began to deepen my conversations with the wind I would grow so tired that I even forgot what I was doing out there all together. It was then that I came to peace with the idea that I was not at fault for Bella running. It was Bella that chose to have this experience I was now calling a vision quest. It was her passion for the wildlife that drew her into those mountains and up that range. I began to imagine having that kind of passion… the kind you get lost in. Humans have lost that kind of passion. We don’t even do much with purpose anymore.
I circled around from tears in a fetal position, to talking with the winds, to analyzing purpose and passion and when I settled on Bella having a vision quest I realized that I needed to hold sacred space for her experience. She may be a dog to some, but to me she is a sentient being with a soul and a spirit and just like you and me, there is a purpose behind this journey. As the winds howled and sideways rain turned to snow, I realized this was my window I had to leave. I needed supplies and a shower and dog food and the other two really needed a break!
I was dangerously hallucinating on the way back to the city and I really should not have been driving but there was no other choice. I had no other help. I knew I could go before daybreak and make it back at sunrise. I was going to get relief at 11am but I knew I had to leave right then. I had reached a point of no return and I was beyond exhausted and in order to make the right decision for everyone involved I had to go now. I realized however that when I got back to my friends house there was no way I could drive unless I laid down for a few minutes. I took a shower because I couldn’t stand myself after no sleep or shower for a few days now. After the shower I literally fell into bed and went out cold for a few hours. I didn’t set an alarm but woke suddenly 2 hours later and even though I feel refreshed I was scared it was taking too long to return and I needed to get the posters up and meat cooking and stand guard for Bella’s return. I still had to get dressed and hurry into Costco to get water and food. But, then came the moment of reality that I had no way to pay for anything. I grabbed some cash and all the supplies and got the other two dogs back in the car and off to Costco on the way back out there. Of course, I get to Costco and wouldn’t you know it there was a line at customer service with ridiculous issues and I don’t have a card and know I can’t buy without it. Now wouldn’t you just know it the customer service rep wants me to wait to take my picture. I’m standing there telling myself to be calm. I wanted to scream that my child is missing and I’m in a hurry, but I figured it best just to trust Gods plan here and funnel through the system quietly… while actively tapping my foot and patting my leg. Dear God let’s roll I’m thinking! Eventually I get my card and all my supplies and bingo! Moms credit card worked again! I didn’t have to use my cash! So, I’m in and out with a giant basket full of food, water, and a large cooler in about 2 minutes. I’m back in the car and finally headed out there. I’m there just after sunrise and I’m sitting there finally catching my breath after starting the grill and organizing the supplies. OK… now what?
This day was so painful. There I was thinking my relief was coming in at 11am like we talked about, but now it’s 11, then 12, then I’m chatting with someone else saying he’s not here. I guess because I left earlier he not coming? I thought he was my help for the day and he wasn’t there. This is when you realize no one is going to be as committed as you and no one is at fault for not being able to volunteer when you need them. You can’t get upset because no one owes you anything. OK… I’m thinking, I have to think fast, what else can I do? Do I drive around, do I hike, do I try to contact someone else? I can’t just sit here with meat on the grill and wind blowing in the opposite direction thinking she just going to smell it and appear. Now what do I do?
It’s such a hopeless feeling. You have to keep re-living every moment until you have an action and an action is a commitment to a certain direction she may not be. You wonder if she’s just sitting there watching you, if she knows your there, or if all those days she was already gone… taken by a mountain lion.
There’s a certain instinctual feeling though that you get as a mother, even to a dog. You can feel them. You know they are still alive. But, you question if it’s a soul connection or an earth connection when nothing is turning up answers. I even had a few pet communicators contact me and one said she would be back in the morning and another said she’s still alive and hurt her feet. She might have been injured or stuck is what they told me. I talked so deeply to her soul and spirit one night I was actually putting on my boots and coat in the middle of the night and planning to walk out the car door and just pick her up. But, when I did she wasn’t there. It was very real and yet very confusing. You wonder then if you really were talking to her in spirit. I kept telling her she has to get strong and get down that mountain and find me. I really just thought she would. The mind was playing tricks on my out there. I hadn’t eaten, had much to drink, no sleep, and I had no desire for anything but her.
When the tracker came into contact with me she told me about a man in Wyoming that had a drone and dog sniffing forensic team. He does human and animal rescues. I was immediately in contact with him and would have liked him there sooner, but they said you have to give it a few days to see if she comes back on her own then bring him in… I think right at the point you’re about to give up hope. We were in contact the day after she went missing and many people had come out driving around and a few on dirt bikes and others on side by sides but since nothing was indicating she was even alive I began to think he may come out and just find her body. I only had one scent article since we had just driven across the country and didn’t have her usual bed or other items and that next morning after we arrived in Utah I washed every article of clothing and bedding we had. After so many days driving across the country my little car was absolutely full of dirt, slobber, and hair.
So, there we were with only the sheet she slept on the first night as our scent article. When the sniffer dogs got there Thursday morning they had no scent. Then the drone was struggling to stay up against strong wind. At the point it finally got upon the air the FAA shut it down when military fighters went by. He had to call it a day almost as quick was he got out there. He filed paperwork to fly the next day and we had rushed a scent article from back home in Michigan that mom had packaged up to arrive that next day. It would have been 1pm at the earliest the next day before he even had the scent article. We are pretty sure he found would have found her that Friday. The winds were going to die down and the scent article would have been good. But, here we were with my hope for Thursday annihilated! But, then I realized there was going to be another volunteer out there that day. He and I talked on Tuesday and he said he couldn’t come Wednesday but he’s for sure be there with a buddies side by side Thursday. Since these people were all volunteers I didn’t know if they would or wouldn’t show up but when they did I celebrated! Most of them said they would be there and they really were. Some said they were there but I never met them and they told me they just drove around and couldn’t find me. But, this day I was so hopeful Ty would come. He would be my last hope for the day and I couldn’t bear the thought of another sunset and night in the car! I just couldn’t do it! When Ty pulled in the drone guy was preparing to go back to Salt Lake City and get a room for the night. Ty was all I had.
Ty pulled in with his bright red truck and a giant trailer on the back hauling an Arctic Cat side by side. I remember seeing the name sort of mocking it in my head… if Bella only knew a Cat was saving her. Even in tragedy God has humor. Ty talked to me and was very focused on the plan for the day. The drone guy told him he saw a trail over on the backside of the mountain and thought we could climb it. We left the other two in the car and Blue was going to have a meltdown. We all drove over to the other side and I gave the drone guy the keys to my car and he went over to sit with the dogs in his car while we went up. As we approached the other side of the mountain it was so incredibly vast and I nearly broke into tears when I saw how vast it was and realized she could be anywhere out there now. We looked into all the cracks and crevices as we made out way to the closest point to the backside of the ridge she had gone over. We knew we might have to hike but we got in there quite far on the trail then made our own way in further over brush and rocks and around many crevices. There was a kind of plateau between the mountains. I learned the space between is called a wash. We came in a wash and went as high as we could by machine and had to get out with a very aggressive hike to the top.
As we approached what we thought was the top there was another top and another. We finally reached the top and found a dirt bike trail at the rim that bridged all the mountains together. We saw that bikers were actively using the trail. But we also saw that we were at minimum 3 or 4 washes over from the ridge she went up. The tracker got us in there but in the wrong spot. We kept going but we were so tired and it was still so very far away. The last thing I wanted to do at this point was to quit. We didn’t bring our water up there and we saw that people were gathering by my car with the dogs in it below.
There were moments out there I felt so very alone but as I saw the crowd gathering down there I realized that all these beautiful people gave up so much time in there day to be there the best they could. They truly cared. I saw Rhonda’s truck down there and I got a tear. She came back I thought! And I saw a few side by sides and thought Rhonda brought help. But, then I was confused because I never saw them again or heard who they were. I was messaging with Rhonda and she said she saw us. I dropped a pin and said we are here and told her we are coming around the backside. I told her we were coming down and we would come back up one more time before sunset. She said “oh, I thought that was you but its a couple dirt bikers.” I thought she was on a side by side with her husband for some reason, but she was down below standing with all the other people and cars looking up at the ridge.
Ty and I hiked all the way back down to the CAT and drove around the backside trying to get a better feel for the next approach. We still hadn’t reached the point where she went over and I was not sleeping that night without seeing the exact point where she went over. I felt like she was injured there because the barking just stopped that night. We drove all the way around the backside and up through the very trail we came out there to originally hike on. I was finally getting a good picture of the lay of the land. It was becoming a bit more clear where she might have gone. But the day was drawing to a close far too quickly. I was so cold and so tired and my body was just spent but I knew I had one more hike in me to get to that ridge before I could sit in that car one more night.
Ty and I finally reached the cars and my friend had come back literally after just being discharged from the hospital hours prior. The surgery went well, but this was the last place they needed to be! We now had new game cameras to set additional feeding stations for the night though. But, then again, we also didn’t as they didn’t come with SIM cards, so that would have also needed to happen the next day with the active dog sniffers and drones. So many things seemed like an absolutely failure that day. I didn’t have much more in me to keep going but I was not stopping til I knew where she went. I was going to exhaust all options and fall over before I quit.
Just as Ty and I were coming back together to get ready to go back out Rhonda was telling me about all the extra supplies she brought me. Food and blankets and water and I was about in tears. Then I was interrupted by a phone call. It was a man saying that he had been trying to get ahold of me and that his boys were out there on dirt bikes and they had my dog. If you’ve ever been through this before, you know all the sick people that were contacting me saying the same, so I didn’t believe him. He said he will send me a pin of their location and gave me the cell phone of one of the bikers. I called with equal enthusiasm and doubt but immediately lost it and broke into tears when I heard her baking in the background.
She was barking! It was a strong bark! All I could hear was her bark and not a word the biker was saying. He was on speaker so everyone else was listening. They were on the very ridge were she had gone over and were standing at the top waving to us. I can’t believe she’s alive! I can’t believe it!
Ty got out his binoculars and looked at the ridge navigating in his mind how we would get to her. They asked if she would bite them as she was not allowing them to get close. We told them how the trainer told us to approach her… to lay down and let her come to you. Immediately I’m crying and Ty is packing up the CAT for our approach and rescue. Oh my God time just stood still during these moments. We couldn’t get there fast enough! My body mind and spirit were so tired. I sat in the CAT thinking I know I’ve got one more hike to do. I also knew that I had hernia about to blow. I was going on 4 hours of sleep in four days. I tried to eat all those days but I couldn’t. I had one bagel and half a veggie burger in those 4 days. I was on fumes. But, there we were driving to get her. That morning Ty said to me “Let’s go get your dog!” And there we were doing it.
I was literally shaking when Ty was unloading that CAT earlier because I wasn’t sure how I’d find her. I was so scared that day. But, there we were on a final ride.
Ty navigated very slowly trying to find the easiest path. Of course we had been hiking up there the first night and we knew a different path that may have been easier but at that point I didn’t care how we got there as long as we got there. We attempted an aggressive climb in one area but couldn’t make it. We worked our way around another area with gulches and valley and drop offs in every direction. We worked around rocks and brush and then finally approached the closest point by machine. We now had to hike. Oh boy did I pray that I could make it up. Ty was like mountain goat just up up up. He said you stay there and I’ll go get her. We saw that the bikers must have brought her closer to us as we hiked to them. Later we would learn they carried her. I stood there unable to move and said God, you gotta give me one more push. I’ve got to get there. My legs felt like heavy weights by now but I pushed and pushed myself so hard to keep going. I finally saw Ty reach her and tie the rope he had around her collar. She was going nowhere. But, she still didn’t see me. I finally was in range and her tail started wagging when she saw me. I approached and literally fell to the ground crying and she stood on top of me licking and crying and wagging her tail. She was shaking and crying. She was so tired and scared and excited all at once.
The first thing I noticed was her weight. She was so skinny! The next thing I noticed was her feet. She was so sore she could hardly walk. We sent pictures down to the team and the first picture went to Dawn. She was the first person to show up out there! In that moment it just felt natural she was first. I had placed a few updates on Facebook that she was found and a picture of the ridge we were climbing to but in all the activity I totally forgot to post that we actually had her and she was alive. I just thought people would assume that. We took pictures with the whole group - the bikers and me and Bella and Ty and me and Bella and then we headed down after thanking the bikers for their awareness and heroism.
It was very obvious that Bella had really injured her feet so I went to pick her up and carry her. Ty knew how exhausted I was and he said “no, put her down and let me.” So, there we were trying to find our was back across the ridge and back to where we parked the CAT. It seemed like we didn’t hike that far but we hiked in further than we remembered. Eventually we found the CAT and had to get down a pretty steep incline. Bella was shaking and crying the whole way. We could see clearly that the issue all those days was that she was not comfortable at all with going down. There was only one way back to me and that was down. Had we not found her I’m not sure she would have tried to get down on her own. I thought her feet were cut up but then I realized they were literally sliced. The pads were missing on the right side. She must have tried to climb someplace and injured herself. Ty was trying to balance carrying her down the steep incline and not fall himself. I wasn’t much help either. We just went slow and steady. We finally got to the CAT and Ty took a picture before we navigated down.
The ride down was truly magical. Bella was all curled up in a giant fluffy blanket and very calm and relaxed and very tired. She relaxed right into my arms and knew she was safe. Ty navigated like he had precious cargo. We felt like we were in a protective bubble of safety, comfort, and love. Honestly, I could have sat in that protective comfort til the end of my days. It was about the closet thing to heaven I think I’ve ever felt. We just knew something magical had occurred out there and this was that momentous moment where it culminated into something quite divine. I was very happy to go very slow down that mountain. It seemed everything went into slow motion on the journey down. The air was getting so cold but under that blanket was the warmest puppy in the world.
All the prayers that were sent out were heard and oh my goodness did we have prayers! All the kindness and volunteers and an army of prayer warriors locally, on social media, all over the globe. I was gifted not just my girl back but if only I could explain the love, light, and prayers that carried us down that mountain that day! We literally floated.
We would eventually reach the bottom and Ty was consciously aware that backing in to the car and the other dogs and the whole group would land me in front of everyone and as we stopped he jumped out and opened the door where everyone was awaiting our arrival. The minute we arrived Blue was barking like a crazy dog. Apparently they tell me he barked the whole time we were gone. He’s very protective and very attached to me and that made those days a bit more challenging out there because I knew I was not going far from him. If I was looking for Bella he was going with. Yet, he’s not quite as athletic… so it was very slow when I did take him with.
But the minute we arrived and Bella heard him barking she raised her head from under the blanket and turned and looked at him. She was so very weak and tired. Blue jumped on me and Bella tried to behave as she normally would but she was a bit too weak to stand. She got lifted right into the back of the car and we gave her water and she drank it right up. I had a rotisserie chicken in the cooler for the feeding stations that I pulled apart and she ate that right up. I wanted to go very slowly feeding her but she didn’t. I only gave her a little bit, which was very hard because I knew she had to be starving. We all stood and watched her and cried and hugged and all that magic out there and all those days waiting and suddenly there we were… it was all over!
Everyone was celebrating and packing up in the cold and wind preparing to go home. It was hard to understand it was all over. It was hard to understand what happened. Suddenly you’re back in reality and something massive just happened and there you stand. There is a moment of awe and a moment of absorption. A culmination of events at completion. One thing I knew was that I was going to take a long shower and a very long nap with my babies curled up next to me with a heater on full speed!
Not everyone gets a happy ending. I’m not sure how I became one of the lucky ones. I’ve been thinking over the last few days now that we are home that one little dog was chosen to have quite an adventure for the sake of bringing out the best in humanity and restoring the human spirit.
It wasn’t til the next morning that I updated my Facebook and oh my gosh I felt so bad! We had people watching all over the globe and I never showed them rescue pictures. People stayed up all night waiting and watching! I was so exhausted I never even thought of it. The next morning a friend in Holland sent me a beautiful picture and saying about a rainbow and a dog. That was how our whole journey began so I shared it and then proceeded to write up the whole story and give details and pictures. While I was doing that people were assuming the rainbow post meant she didn’t make it. I never said anything but they just assumed. I started getting all kinds of messages of sorrow and grief. Assumptions are so dangerous. I went on to post the write up and pictures of the rescue and realized everything had taken on a life of it’s own. I had to apologize to all those that thought the worst. But, the new posting cleared up the confusion. She was safe and I think the whole world cheered!
The power of one little dog brought so many together and many reached out to tell me that they never pray but they did on those days and they prayed like crazy. I was told that the dirt bike riders had been learning about miracles in their scriptures earlier that week. There was no doubt that what occurred out there were a series of miracles.
We are finally preparing to drive back home to Michigan in a few days and my heart will be forever connected to the beautiful souls that were part of this painful and amazing 4 days of our lives. We are all bonded with this experience for life. We hope that by the time we arrive back in Michigan Bella will have regained full use of her feet as they have been quite painful and wrapped every day with healing salve and oils since her return. She’s finally getting back out for walks and has been eating well and wagging her tail. Nothing will be more healing than getting home however.
From the bottom of my heart, thank you to all that showed up and showered us with the gifts of your presence and love of your hearts. Thank you to the rescue team of Ty, Clay, and Ryan. Thank you to those that brought food and supplies and sat with us in the cold: Dawn and Rhonda. Thank you to those that drove around looking such as Tristan and Stockton, and others that chose to remain nameless. Thank you to Tracy and the others at the only gas station around as they got the first call and gave out my phone number. Thank you to the partners of those that showed for understanding our situation. Thank you to everyone that prayed and checked in with me from a distance and shared our online postings to rescue groups like John and “China”. And thank you to those that wrote beautiful words of encouragement and hope. Mostly, thank you for not giving up on us!
Now that I’ve shared with you the story of Bellas rescue, I hope that you can see it is most definitely a story about restoring humanity, hope, community togetherness, and love. Its a message about not giving up, keeping the faith, and miracles. Its a story worth telling. But, since this is a podcast about the truths about book publishing, let me just also give you a reality check on how something like this relates to a book.
Perhaps someone has told you that you should write a book. Maybe you also have a really great story worthy of sharing?
When it comes to writing a book, my story is a worth story, possibly a movie in the making, but as an author you have to also know where you stand in relationship to the story and how much passion you have to share it. If you write a book, do you want a return on your investment or do you want to simply share the story? Can you relate the story to your income, business, or life purpose? If not, then are you ok only telling your story or maybe not even breaking even with the expense?
Depending upon your goals, you have to decide how you want to position yourself. If you want to turn it into a movie then you may have to write a script or screen play. Or you might have to find someone else that will. Of course, every additional party you bring to the table is an extra expense.
Many people have a misunderstanding of the profits and expenses of storytelling and book writing. Writing a book seems like a great idea until you understand that as a self-published author its your cost of time and money. If this book were to cost you $10-15K would you still feel as passionate about writing it?
Passion will always define your purpose however. Myself, I might use what I wrote here in a chapter in my next book, but otherwise I believe it was an amazing experience to be apart of and share with others. I’m thankful we had a happy ending and I get to take my girl back home with me to live out a full life. It was a short period of time that I will definitely hold dearly, but its you that has to decide that you do with your story.
On that note guys, and as always, I’m wishing you peace, love, and light.
Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from our team.
Don't worry, your information will not be shared.