Dog reunited with owner after 7 days spent criss-crossing I-70 near Frisco during back-to-back snowstorms
Volunteers from Summit Lost Pet Rescue helped search for the lost dog through snowy weather
Editor’s note: This story has been updated with the correct date of Maple’s rescue.
Mary Quinn never expected that her 3-year-old dog, Maple, could survive a week out in the cold of winter and back-to-back snowstorms alone.
But that’s what happened after snow and ice falling from a rooftop in Copper spooked Maple last Wednesday, Jan. 11. Maple had been in her usual spot, lingering close on Quinn’s heel as they walked to her husband’s office — until the ice crashing to the ground sent the dog into fight-or-flight mode.
“I didn’t even see what direction she went,” Quinn said. “That’s how fast she got away from me.”
For days, Quinn and volunteers with Summit Lost Pet Rescue searched for Maple. The team of more than a dozen volunteers hung bright-colored posters, donned cross-country skis and snowshoes to patrol snow-covered trails and even flew a drone in an effort to find Maple.
Several times, the team responded to reported sightings of Maple crossing Interstate 70 in Frisco. So, through early-week snowstorms, volunteers drove up and down the highway, their eyes peeled for a white dog with brown spots.
“Maple’s guardian angels were very busy,” said Simone Mancuso, a volunteer with Summit Lost Pets Rescue who spent several days helping with the search. “Because she was seen on the highway several times.”
Finally, on Tuesday night, Jan. 17, their efforts paid off when Quinn was able to lure Maple back into her arms with treats. Driving near Dillon Dam Road, where the team had received reports of the lost dog, Quinn spotted Maple. The pet rescue group had warned her not to call out or try to approach Maple because she might run away again — so Quinn exited her car quietly.
“I kind of slithered out and turned my back to her and then I sang my Maple song,” Quinn said. “I noticed her perk up and out of the corner of my eye I saw her wagging her tail.”
Seeing Maple’s tail wagging, it was hard not to turn around and call for her, Quinn said. But she remained still until Maple came sniffing for the treats in her hand.
“She came over like, ‘Hey, what do you have there?” she said. “I got the leash on and then I cried — a happy cry.”
Mancuso recalled the gratitude Quinn displayed for all the volunteers — giving them all hugs — after she and Maple were reunited.
“The best hug I’ve ever gotten is when we found the dog,” Mancuso said.
Having a lost dog crossing back and forth over I-70 made this a particularly nerve wracking rescue, Mancuso said. But despite almost seven days in the outdoors, Maple was as calm as ever after she was rescued.
“The dog was cool as a cucumber after running laps on I-70,” Mancuso said. “You would have never known it was the same dog that was so spooked 30 minutes prior to that.”
Quinn said she contacted Summit Lost Pet Rescue almost as soon as she knew Maple was missing. Rescue volunteers later told her that being quick to report a missing pet can make all the difference, she said.
Almost as soon as posters were hung around town, Quinn started getting calls reporting sightings. She recalled several “miracle calls,” including one where a driver who called told her, “I just saw your dog cross I-70. I almost hit her.”
With Maple running back and forth across the highway over several days, Quinn said she had to block out the idea that her dog could be hurt — or worse.
“You feel like you’re going to throw up. Is it my heart? Is it my stomach? Which is it?” she said. “You kind of almost don’t let yourself go there. You kind of have to stay on par with her. If she’s doing everything to survive, you have to keep that mindset with her.”
Mancuso remembers seeing Quinn’s facial expressions and being able to tell that “she was really struggling.” Summit Lost Pet Rescue volunteers offered emotional support and Quinn said they kept telling her, “We’ll find her.”
When a report of a sighting came in, a look of excitement would blanket Quinn’s face, Mancuso said, but when it turned out to be a false report, that excitement would fade. Sometimes, she said, the look on Quinn’s face would just be “What do I do next?”
“Her biggest concern was the dog,” Mancuso said. “You could just plainly see that her needs came a far second from doing what she needed to do to rescue her dog.”
Now that Maple is home, she is getting lots of treats, Quinn said. During a phone interview with a Summit Daily reporter, she laughed a little as she watched Maple twitch in her sleep.
“She’s still running across I-70 in her sleep,” Quinn said. “We’re so happy to have her home.”
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