A family hiking in King’s Point, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada, thought they were going out for a typical Sunday hike, until their dog got lost.
Jennifer Koops, her husband, two children and Touton, the family’s Golden Retriever, were hiking in the woods when Touton got separated from his family, CBC News reports. They searched unsuccessfully for the dog until they couldn’t search anymore and went back to the town of Botwood, where they stopped at a diner and left their contact information with Debbie Penney in hopes that if Touton showed up or someone found the dog, they would know who to contact.
Penney had other ideas. She knew exactly who to contact and proactively called her husband Jason, who has been hunting in those woods for several years, and knows the area well. Their son, Dylan, joined his dad for the search and rescue.
“We’ve been hunting in there for a few years, coyotes and stuff, so I knew the country. And my young fella wanted to go, so I said, ‘let’s take the flashlights and go,'” Jason Penney told CBC News. “We were actually calling, calling his name, Touton. We walked so far, we’d call out, and then we’d whistle, and we’d call, and we’d take a break.”
About an hour into their search, around 9:30 p.m., they heard Touton bark and they were able to locate the dog, who Jason said was exhausted.
“He was just too tired. He got arthritis, and the snow was deep, and he couldn’t walk no more. He had given up. I actually thought his hips had given out,” Jason said.
Having found the dog, they next had to determine how to walk out of the woods, in deep snow, with a big, visibly exhausted dog.
The rescuers first tried to make a sling out of a tree and two jackets but that didn’t last very long, so they decided to take turns carrying the dog, which they later found out weighed 108 pounds, on their shoulders.
As they tired, carrying what essentially was dead weight on their shoulders, they thought about leaving Touton and coming back with a sleigh to bring him out of the woods but that suggestion was quashed.
“A couple times we were gonna give up, and go out and get a sleigh and come back in and maybe bring help,” Jason said. “But we heard coyotes once that night while we were in there, howling, and we said ‘well, we couldn’t leave him.'”
They finally made it out of the woods and back to their truck at 2:30 a.m.
When the Penneys contacted the Koops family and told them Touton had been found, all involved cried with joy.
“We were overjoyed that Touton was OK and fine, because we were very, very worried,” Jennifer Koops told CBC News. “And just in shock that complete strangers would go into the woods for us after dark to look for our dog.”