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Snowshoers rescue dog missing on mountain after avalanche

Dhicon_thumb By DogHeirs Team | April 18, 2013 | Comments (4)

A dog was rescued off a mountain when he went missing after an avalanche
Blue was rescued by a group of hikers on Red Mountain, WA.


A group of snowshoers hiking in Washington's Snoqualmie Pass went out of their way to save a dog who was missing after an avalanche claimed the life of his owner.

Joy Yu and her 8-year-old Border Collie/Sheltie, Blue, were snowshoeing on Red Mountain on Saturday when an avalanche was triggered. People at the scene were able to dig Joy out from the snow after Blue lead them to her. But sadly, Joy passed away while being taken down the mountain. It was during these events, that Blue went missing.

The following day, the Meetup hiking group called "the Peaks", were about to begin their hike on Guye Peak, the opposite peak to Red Mountain, when they were told about Blue. During their hike, Woody and Tanna Knouse, Kevin Calandrella, "Carrie" Carolyn E. Miesel, Cathy Macchio and Bent Wiencke heard a dog barking. Suspecting it was Blue, the group immediately decided to change their route to see if they could find the dog they did not know. The detour would add 2 hours and 3 extra miles to their trip. It became a day they will never forget.

created on: 2013-04-18
The Peaks Meetup hiking group who rescued Blue

Here is Tanna ad Woody's first-hand account of Blue's rescue:


Our Meetup hiking group (the Peaks) planned a snowshoe for Sunday April 14th. The night before the hike, we saw on the local news that several snowshoers were caught up in two separate avalanches on Granite Mountain and on Red Mountain. The initial report was one man was still buried and missing on Granite Mountain and one woman was injured but being rescued off Red Mountain. The Red Mountain woman had been snowshoeing alone with her dog [Blue] but she was hiking near a group of 12 other snowshoers that were also caught in the avalanche. When the avalanche stopped the group noticed the woman’s dog was approaching them but the woman was missing.

The dog was able to take them to where the woman was buried and they dug her out. At that time she was alive but injured. We later read on the news the woman had been brought down from the mountain and she and the dog were alive (later to be found as incorrect information!). Because of the avalanche conditions we all decided to snowshoe Guy Peak, as our leader is familiar with a very avalanche safe route.

The route taken by Blue's rescuers to find him
The route that Tanna, Woody and the group hiked on the day they found Blue

Six of us (Bent, Cathy, Carrie, Kevin, Woody and Tanna) arrived at the Snoqualmie parking area and began to get our gear ready. As we were preparing for our day of fun, a Sheriff’s Officer (John Wartes) approached our group and asked us what our plans were for the day. We told him we were headed up to Guye Peak. He then told us that sadly the woman from Red Mountain had passed away while they were getting her down from the mountain the night before. He also told us that the woman’s dog was missing on Red Mountain and requested we keep our ears and eyes open for the dog and gave us his contact information. We told him we were going to the opposite peak of Red Mountain but we would definitely watch for the dog. So our adventure begins.

Guye Peak and Red Mountain
Blue was found at 4800 foot elevation

We all headed out on our hike up to Guye Peak. It was a TOUGH day to say the least. There was a couple of feet of fresh snow and we all had to take turns breaking through deep new snow. Our leader did a great job plotting a route that was avalanche safe and after hours of very hard work our group made it to the approach of Guy Peak. It was at this time that Kevin first noticed off in the distance a dog barking. We all stopped and listened and we could hear in the direction of Red Mountain what sounded like a distressed dog bark. We were thinking... could this be the missing dog??? What were the odds this was the dog – we didn’t know.

We finally reached the summit of Guye Peak and stopped for lunch. Bent called the Sheriff Wartes and told him we could hear a dog barking in the direction of Red Mountain. The Sheriff didn’t offer any options at that time, but did ask us to keep him posted. So as a group we all discussed what we should do. We made a group decision to hike down to the Red Mountain trail junction below and go towards Red Mountain to see if we could still hear the dog. We hit the Red Mountain trail junction and Bent determined it would be 3/4 of a mile to the basin below Red Mountain. There was not one hesitation in the group.

Blue spotted sitting under a tree
Blue was first spotted sitting under a tree

Even after a very hard day of breaking snow we all felt we at least needed to try to find the source of the barking. So we headed towards Red Mountain. We all had agreed we would only go as far as was safe and we could not put ourselves at risk of any avalanche. The great thing was there was a packed down trail from the rescuers so at least we didn’t have to break snow once again. We followed the rescue trail and tried several times to stop and listen – but we did not hear the dog.

Tanna and Woody Knouse helped rescue a dog off a moutain
Blue on his way down Red Mountain with Tanna

Finally just prior to the approach of Red Mountain we heard a faint barking. We knew now that this must be the missing dog! It sounded like the dog was 500-700 feet up Red Mountain. We assessed the rescue path and it was very safe – winding up through the trees and not in avalanche danger. So up we climbed once again in our hopes of finding the dog. As we climbed the barking got louder and eventually at 4800 feet, we turned a corner and found above us a very scared dog sitting in the snow under a tree.

The dog was unsure but with some patience and food from our lunch he eventually came close enough for us to put a prusick cord leash on his collar. We were so excited that we had found him! He seemed in good health, although very hungry. We brought our new little friend down off the mountain and called the Sheriff and let everyone know the dog had been rescued. It was now 5:00 pm and we had been on the mountain for 9 hours.

Tanna and Woody Knouse helped rescue a dog off a moutain
Tanna and Woody with Blue

At the parking lot, King 5 news interviewed our group. We found out the dog’s name is Blue and the owner’s sister lived in Issaquah. A plan was made for a friend of the dog’s owner (Lynn) to meet us and we would follow her to the sister’s house to return the dog home to family. Later that evening our group was able to reunite the dog with the owner’s family.

Our day was bittersweet. A woman had died in a horrible accident but we at least felt we were able to help the family by rescuing the dog and getting him back home safe and sound. Everyone pitched in as an amazing team. It will be a day we will never forget.

Tanna and Woody Knouse helped rescue a dog off a moutain
Blue on his way home to his family

Woody and Tanna tell us that Blue is currently at home with the owner’s sister and doing very well.

All photos are courtesy of and copyrighted to Woody and Tanna Knouse.

Copyright 2015 DogHeirs. All Rights Reserved.

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Comments on this Article

Wow, what a beautiful yet heartbreaking story.... I agree with Josh.... what a hard adventure but worth it I bet.... I would do it over and over if I was a part of the group.... ... only if I was.. lol... I would do the same thing this group did. You guys deserve more than just this for saving a dog that just lost his owner.... He is a beautiful dog! wow... what a beautiful eyes he has. I am glad that the sister took over and is caring for the dog. I know it is hard for him. I hope that he knows how much he was loved and cared for.... impressive that he survived the avalanche and survived being alone for overnight and so on. Right on! What a great ending!
Way to go to the peaks hiking group. Your efforts saved the life of a little dog that tried to save the life of his caregiver. Blue, even though Joy passed away you saved her from passing away alone under the snow. You are still a hero. My sincere condolences go out to the family Joy Yu.
What wonderful people you are to go through this to save him and what an amazing story. You've saved his life for certain and although it will be hard for him to miss his owner he will have loving family around him. Bless you!
And i thought the handful of dogs I rescue from the Houston streets yearly was tough. Hiking through mountainous, avalanche, powdery terrain is beyond impressive. Much respect to you guys for rescuing this dog!
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