She was missing for 8 days before a neighbor happened upon her.
Sage is a golden Labrador who is completely blind and a senior living in Boulder Creek, California with a family that adores her. That’s why when she went missing earlier this month, the Cole family was in complete disarray as they scrambled to find her, even calling on neighbors to help them in the days that followed her disappearance.
The family had thought that she had been brought into the house after they’d all spent some time together in the yard, but an hour after coming inside they realized she must have been left outside. When they realized she was no longer in their yard and had walked off, they searched frantically late into the night.
After five days of enlisting the help of neighbors and looking endlessly for her, they began to lose hope. Even their fliers, some of which offered a $1,000 reward for anyone that returned her or offered information that led to her recovery, did not help in finding her. It would be tough for any dog to live out on the streets, but Sage’s blindness made matters even worse.
It was actually Dan Estrada, the Cole family’s next door neighbor, that found Sage on accident a whole 8 days after she was last seen. Just fifteen minutes into a hike with a friend and their two dogs, Barnabas and Köelsch, he said he saw something at the base of a steep slope.
“At first I thought it was a trash bag, so I was actually frustrated,” Estrada told The Dodo. “Nobody wants people dumping trash in the forest. Then I looked closer, and I saw that it was Sage.”
His heart sank as he made a crushing realization; Sage was lying there motionless, meaning she was likely dead. He was devastated and knew that he would need to recover her body and tell the Cole family what had happened to their beloved family member. As he slowly descended the slope, however, his friend called out that he had seen Sage pick up her head.
“He yelled, ‘Dude, she’s alive,'” Estrada recalled, and everything changed for him after that.
“I climbed a lot quicker, jumped into the stream and hustled over to her,” Estrada said. “I put my arms around her and kissed her and started to pet her. And she was able to hold her head up and wag her tail.”
The reunion was sweet, and she even began sniffing out Barnabas and Köelsch, the other two dogs, whom she knew and walked with regularly. She attempted to walk a few steps, but after not eating for 8 days and her being blind, this was an impossible task and Estrada decided to carry her the entire way back.
Estrada’s friend contacted the Cole family to let them know they had found Sage, and when the family reunited with Sage it was emotional to say the least.
“They were crying, they were happy,” Estrada said. “We were about halfway up the mountain, and I could see that they were all teary-eyed.”
The Cole family attempted to offer Estrada the $1,000 reward that he had rightfully earned, but he refused to accept it. He urged them to instead donate that money to animal rescue organization and said that he is just happy to have helped Sage and the Cole family during their time of need.
As for Sage and the Cole family, they said, “Our family is so grateful to have Sage home! Our small town has really pulled together around this happy ending made possible by our neighbor Dan.”