In a solemn testament to the loyalty of man’s best friend, a Colorado hiker was found deceased in the rugged terrain of the Rocky Mountains with his devoted dog by his side. Rich Moore, 71, of Pagosa Springs, embarked on a hike with his Jack Russell terrier, Finney, on August 19 and never returned.
The community shared heartfelt tributes on social media to the enduring bond between Moore and his canine companion. “So sad, and yet so beautiful that the little Jack Russell stayed with him for all these weeks. Sometimes tragedies remind us of the bond between man and his best friend,” one user posted on X, formerly Twitter.
— Chris 🇺🇸 (@Chris_1791) November 14, 2023
The tragedy unfolded on Blackhead Peak, part of the South San Juan Wilderness’s western boundary in Archuleta County, where Moore set out to hike. After an exhaustive search operation that spanned over two months and involved more than 2,000 hours of effort, it was not search and rescue teams but a hunter who discovered Moore’s body on October 30, approximately 2.5 miles east of the peak.
Finney, displaying an extraordinary sense of loyalty, stayed beside Moore, surviving the harsh conditions. Delinda Vanne-Brightyn, a member of Taos Search and Rescue (TSR), reflected on the demanding nature of the search, “It was so steep, we were inserted in by a helicopter,” she shared on TSR’s Facebook page. The terrain’s challenges were also highlighted by the Chaffee County Search and Rescue North, which noted Moore’s lack of preparation for the high-altitude conditions, found with only a cotton hooded sweatshirt and no remaining food or water.
The determination of Moore’s cause of death is still pending. While authorities do not suspect foul play, the whole story of his final days remains unknown. However, Finney’s survival, which likely relied on basic hunting instincts, astonished the online community. “There is no love like the unconditional love of dogs. Such faithfulness,” a comment on social media read, encapsulating the sentiment of many.
Following the tragic discovery, Finney was taken for veterinary care and has since been reunited with Moore’s family. This bittersweet conclusion brought a degree of closure to a family grieving the loss of a loved one while also celebrating the return of a heroic pet that exemplified steadfast companionship.