Dog Reunites With Owner After Surviving 53 Days In The Desert

Barbara Bagley can finally begin to heal after a horrific car accident in December took the life of her husband, one of their Shetland sheepdogs and left her in critical condition. Her dog Dooley, who ran off at the scene of the crash, was found alive after surviving 53 days in the Nevada desert.

The Salt Lake City woman said she never gave up hope that she would see her beloved pet alive. Four-year-old Dooley was tracked down five miles from the accident site, exhausted and weighing less than half of his normal weight.

“I would think about Dooley constantly,” Bagley told The Associated Press. “There were TV commercials with dogs that made me think about him and cry. He’s just the sweetest dog.”

Barbara and her family were traveling on Interstate 80, outside of Reno, NV on December 27 when they were in a single car accident. Bagley and her husband, Brad Vom Baur, were taken to the hospital in critical condition. Their sheltie Delaney was killed in the crash and little Dooley ran away in the confusion.

Barbara suffered a concussion, a broken wrist and ribs and punctured lungs. But as soon as she began to feel better her focus turned to finding Dooley.

A plea for help was posted on a Facebook page and dozens of Nevada volunteers began to search the desert on January 6. Unfortunately the remains of a dog were found along the highway and the search was stopped. That same day, Barbara’s husband died from his injuries.

“It was a horrible day for me,” Bagley said. “But something inside me told me Dooley was still alive out there. I wasn’t 100 percent sure, but I didn’t grieve for Dooley like I did for my husband and my other dog.”

Three weeks later a woman reported seeing “a Lassie-type” dog near the accident scene. Then a second sighting was called in by railroad workers. Finally a local woman on horseback teamed up with a friend of Bagley’s in a Jeep and together they tracked down and rescued the frightened dog.

When Barbara arrived at the scene she worried Dooley wouldn’t remember her. Then she said to Dooley, “my beautiful boy, you’re home,” and everyone in the room knew Dooley’s “adventure in Nevada was over.”

During the 53 days Dooley survived on his own he dropped from 44 pounds to 20 pounds. But the clever little dog did a pretty good job keeping himself alive during his ordeal. He was spotted once eating a dead coyote along the highway and the veterinarian who examined him found a “lone bird bone” in his throat.

Dooley has returned to Salt Lake City with Barbara and has started to gain back some of his weight. He is also helping Barbara with her grief and the healing process. “He (Dooley) gives me hope,” she said.

“It’s a message from my husband who was looking out for him,” Bagley continued. “It was a miracle that we got Dooley. He couldn’t have survived much longer out there.”


Related Stories:

Kittens On Hillside Beckon Rescuers

Rhino Killed In Demonstration

Dog Seized From Abusive Rescue Group Reunites With Family


Photo Credit: mccun934


William C
William C3 months ago


W. C
W. C3 months ago

Thank you.

Roslyn McBride
Roslyn McBride2 years ago

Really glad for the person who at least got one dog back after going through such a bad time. Glad for the dog, too.

Henriette Matthijssen
Henriette M2 years ago

All the best to Barbara & Dooley. May they both enjoy the rest of their lives together & God Bless them both for theit strength & coutage!

Jennifer Daniel
Past Member 2 years ago

A bittersweet story - I'm sorry for her loss, but happy for her find. Many thanks for the post and best wishes to them!

adi Ra
adi Ra2 years ago


Carole R.
Carole R2 years ago

So glad there was a happy ending.


Im in tears what a sad story with a happy ending, yes her husband and the dead dog definitly took care of Dooley thank God they found him and is helping Barbara's healing.

Heather Black
Heather B2 years ago

Glad Dooley back home

Pinke A.
Pinke A2 years ago

I used to have a Sheltie! Sweet dog and tuff one too! That was great and brave little one. Thanks for sharing.