Another dog stranded while hiking with owners on Quandary Peak Sunday made it safely off the Fourteener after Summit County Rescue Group responded to bring the dog and another hiker to safety.
Two hikers and the dog ended up trapped, or "cliffed out" on the West Ridge route Sunday night without technical gear. One of the hikers was able to climb down to get help using abandoned equipment he found in the area.
Seventeen members of the rescue group responded to help the second hiker and the dog, who were both lowered to safety.
Rescuers received the call just before 8 p.m. Sunday, but the hiker and dog didn't make it back to their vehicle until 6:30 a.m. Monday.
The rescue isn't the first that involved dogs stranded in the backcountry this year. Local rescuers respond to calls to help hikers and their dogs every year. The recent well-publicized Missy case on Mount Bierstadt (see PAGE 5) is just one example.
To keep pooches out of trouble on High Country hikes, officials recommend being prepared in advance, carefully considering whether dogs can handle the selected terrain and respecting pets' signals that they are injured or exhausted.
Rescuers suggested leaving pets at home if the terrain on the route requires scrambling or includes features that could require dogs to have to be raised or lowered.
"If you are planning to carry a helmet, harness and/or rope for yourself, think twice before taking your dog with you," rescue group spokeswoman Allison Olenginski stated.
A dog's physical capabilities should also be considered before they attempt high-alpine excursions. Dogs that are not accustomed to altitude or extreme temperatures may struggle with backcountry conditions. Health problems not apparent in older dogs at sea level can cause serious problems or even death on a stressful hike at altitude.
Rescuers recommend booties for dogs not accustomed to walking on rough terrain, and eye protection for all dogs. Pet owners should also try to limit the amount of time dogs spend in the water on the hike, as wet paws are more susceptible to damage.
Officials also urge owners to be attentive to their dog's behavior and to be on the lookout for injuries or other health problems.
"He or she will usually tell you when it is time to turn around," Olenginski stated. "Keep in mind, even an injured dog will continue to follow his owner until he/she is physically is unable to (do so)."
Dogs acting differently, picking up a paw, limping switching weight-bearing legs, running three-legged or experiencing vomiting or diarrhea should not continue hiking, officials said.
For additional information on pet safety, contact the rescue group at firstname.lastname@example.org.