Loyal Lab, Ranger, Survives By His Side


In Yavapai County, Arizona, a local news story becomes another example of why dogs are often referred to as “man’s best friend.”

Authorities were, unfortunately, not surprised to find the deceased remains of hiker Donald Hayes after six long days of searching. After all, the chances of a person surviving the brutal heat and terrain of the Mingus Mountains for days on end with minimal food and water are slim to none.

However, they were surprised to find that Hayes’ hiking companion, a lab mix named Ranger, was lying beside his deceased owner. And even more surprising was the fact that Ranger was alive.

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“Mr. Hayes’ dog Ranger, who was with him on the hike, was found alive, having remained with the victim.” said the Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office

Hayes was seventy-four at the time of his death, and while an official cause of death has not yet been released, it is the general assumption that Hayes succumbed to the brutality of the elements.

Hayes and his buddy, Ranger, had hiked approximately eight miles before losing their way. When Hayes realized that they were lost in the vast mountains, he called his wife and asked her to alert local authorities. Officers instructed Hayes to stay in place so that he could be more easily located. Unfortunately, Hayes did not heed this advice and continued on, turning off his cell phone to save battery life.

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The Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office immediately launched a massive search and rescue team, which included volunteers from the community, working dogs, and all available officers. One member of this search group was Dr. Heather Lum, a licensed veterinarian who works closely with the county’s canine search and rescue team.

The team searched the Mingus Mountains for five long days with not a clue as to where Hayes and his pup could be. It was almost as if they had disappeared out of thin air! Finally, on the fifth day of the search, Hayes was found deceased, with Ranger by his side. Ranger was very weak and critically dehydrated, but he was alive.

“I think the elements definitely took a toll on Ranger. He was not mobile (at the time of rescue), but his head was up and he was responsive to us saying his name and petting him” – Dr. Heather Lum

The veterinary team went to work immediately to stabilize Ranger for transport to the closest emergency hospital. Fortunately, the team came equipped with a “go bag” of ER essentials. The team administered subcutaneous fluids and oxygen to the poor pup and did their best to cool him down while transport was arranged.

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“It doesn’t surprise at all that his dog stayed with him and didn’t want to leave,” said Josh Sanders of the Search and Rescue Team

Once Ranger was well enough to travel, he was taken to a local emergency veterinarian, where he could be stabilized further and treated for his exposure to the elements. Members of the community created a GoFundMe to collect donations towards Ranger’s medical bills, and, as of last Saturday, over $4,000 had been collected.

Ranger has since been discharged from the hospital and returned to his home, where he will live out the rest of his days alongside Donald’s wife, Marjorie. Ranger’s loyalty in the face of danger has become an inspiration to the community, with friends and neighbors expressing their sincere amazement at Ranger’s commitment to Mr. Hayes:

“Heartbreaking,” said one user, “and his faithful dog stayed by his side…..A dog truly is man’s best friend.”

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