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Taz, the Terrific Shelter Dog

When two-time adventure racing world champion, Danelle Ballengee chose a rambunctious German Shepherd/Golden Retriever puppy from a shelter, she had no idea how important the dog would become; especially since the dog was the worst in his puppy school class.

Ballengee and Taz left her home in Moab, Utah for a relaxing two-hour trail run. Not seeing a patch of black ice, Ballengee slipped and fell 50 feet down a canyon. Taz found a trail down to be at her side. She was thankful that she was not paralyzed, but was in too much pain to stand. She crawled back up the trail that Taz found and the two settled in for the night. With temperatures dipping into the 20s, Taz slept with his head on her stomach, keeping her warm.

The next morning when Ballengee tried to stand, she screamed in pain, alerting Taz to jump into action. He left Ballengee but returned to be near her for the second night. When she awoke, Taz was not nearby. Soon he did return and that's when Ballengee heard an engine and then saw a rescuer coming her way.

According to the rescuer, Taz was found running near her vehicle but was unapproachable. The dog's agitation made him believe that he wanted them to follow. Taz lead them straight to Ballengee.

The world champion had broken her pelvis in four places and had suffered severe frostbite on her feet. She was bleeding internally and had many cuts and bruises on her hands and knees. Taz was finally allowed to visit Ballengee in the hospital and was thrilled to see that his owner was okay. The next day, Taz jumped the fence and was found scratching at the hospital doors.

Ballengee spent 52 hours in the wilderness. Doctors told her it is unlikely that she will lose any toes, but that it could be two to six months before she can walk again. She cannot wait to spoil her dog. "My dog is so awesome. He has no idea how important he is. He deserves a big reward – like a big steak."

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