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Survival Skills

Dooley and his owner Barbara Bagley.

Barbara Bagley and her husband were seriously injured near Battle Mountain, NV. The single-vehicle accident claimed the life of one of her Shelties. Her other Sheltie, Dooley, bolted from the scene of the crash and took off towards the desert of Nevada. Bagley and her husband were rushed to the hospital. She suffered from a concussion, a shattered wrist, broken ribs and two punctured lungs. A few days later, her husband passed away from his injuries.

Learning of her husband's death, Bagley turned her attention to finding her other dog in the sage-covered plains and hills of Nevada. "It was a horrible day for me," Bagley recalled. "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 our other dog."

Bagley knew that Dooley's return would aid in her recovery, so she turned to Facebook to plea for help finding her little dog. Three weeks later, one woman reported spotting "a Lassie-type dog" near the accident scene. Bagley and other volunteers rushed to the scene, but turned up nothing; however, about 15 miles east of Battle Mountain, a railroad crew spotted a dog matching Dooley's description.

Positive identifications began to come in with others spotting the little Sheltie; however, Bagley became frustrated as the little skittish dog kept fleeing from her and the other searchers. Finally after 53 days, Shannon Sustacha of Lamoille was on horseback as she spotted the little dog. She, along with a friend in a Jeep, was able to corner the frightened dog and put him in the Jeep. An anxious Bagley arrived a short time later but was apprehensive about approaching Dooley. "You think he'll remember me," wondered Bagley. But when they opened the door, Bagley exclaimed, "My beautiful boy, my beautiful boy, you're home." Tears were flowing as the two were reunited. "I was overjoyed that I was going to have him back in my life. I think he felt the same about me."

During the ordeal, Dooley's weight dropped from 44 pounds to 20 pounds. He survived on road kill and water from nearby ranches. The two are back together and are working to heal from their ordeal. "He's the physical and mental affection that I need to recover," Bagley explains. "I owe him so much for the hope I have now and the renewed faith I have in prayer. Dogs are so great because of their unconditional love."