"This is incredible!" – how did miracle dog survive 10 weeks in the wild?

Jack Russell terrier
Finney the Jack Russell Terrier has become an internet sensation after watching over her owner's body for 10 weeks (Image credit: Getty Images)

When missing hiker Richard Moore's body was discovered on a Colorado peak on October 30, the news was bittersweet  – though the 70-year-old hiker had sadly perished during a summer hike, his dog had miraculously survived in the wild for seven weeks.

Rescuers were shocked to discover Finney, Moore's Jack Russell Terrier, faithfully standing guard over her owner's body when they finally located the hiker's remains in a drainage basin on Blackhead Peak, a 12,500ft mountain in the southern San Juans. The astonishing news has drawn a great deal of interest around the globe, and left many wondering how such a tale of endurance is possible.

Though it's impossible to know just how Finney survived the ordeal, the Denver Gazette has started piecing together how she might have done so after speaking with Ryan Foster, emergency management commander for Archuleta County Sheriff's Office, who describes his astonishment at receiving the call from a hunter who had found the pair.

“It comes in that the dog is alive. And that the hunter was unable to round her up because she was skittish. We were like ‘No way, this is incredible!’”

Jack Russell Dog reaches mountain top summit on beautiful sunny day

The already tiny dog had shrunk to half of her original 12 lb weight by the time she was rescued (Image credit: Jeremy Thurston)

The mountain rescue team was able to finally coax Finney to safety using a can of dog food and discovered that she was still wearing her collar and name tag.

According to the report, a nearby spring was Finney's source of drinking water, and the only plausible explanation for her survival over the more than two-month trial is that she ate insects and small mammals like chipmunks. It's likely that she also defended herself and her owner's remains against attacks by predatory animals such as the coyotes, mountain lions and bears which are native to Colorado's backcountry.

The already tiny dog had shrunk to half of her original 12 lb weight by the time she was rescued but is now reunited with her family and recovering.

Julia Clarke

Julia Clarke is a staff writer for Advnture.com and the author of the book Restorative Yoga for Beginners. She loves to explore mountains on foot, bike, skis and belay and then recover on the the yoga mat. Julia graduated with a degree in journalism in 2004 and spent eight years working as a radio presenter in Kansas City, Vermont, Boston and New York City before discovering the joys of the Rocky Mountains. She then detoured west to Colorado and enjoyed 11 years teaching yoga in Vail before returning to her hometown of Glasgow, Scotland in 2020 to focus on family and writing.