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.”
Photo Credit: mccun934