It was just another ordinary day for thrill-seeker Zachary Anderegg, but little did he know though that his life was about to change forever…
Zachary was on a regular canyon climb, one he’d done many times before. However, as he approached the bottom of the canyon, he found something that would leave him stunned. What happened next was incredible…
A Normal Hike
It was like any other day for Anderegg, who was was exploring a slot canyon in northern Arizona. He later recounted the story to CBS News, and described the event as life changing.
It was late in 2010. The hike was something he’d done on many occasions before, sometimes with family, sometimes alone, like he was this particular time.
Anderegg had set out on what was a fairly easy hike for a man of his skills and experience. The weather conditions were good, it was a dry, bright morning, absolutely perfect for a day of exploring.
A Deep Descent
As the hiker continued to descend deeper into the canyon, the gap between the walls narrowed, almost completely blocking out the sun at some points. Even so, he carried on making his way along the bottom of the gorge before descending down a short drop.
“A Really Neat Room”
Once he was down in this region, the canyon walls thankfully began to open up again, letting in more air and light. Here, Anderegg pushed forward along a corridor and out into an opening, which he could only described as being like “a really neat room.”
Anderegg had reached a good depth of around 100 feet. But he was determined to go much much deeper. He rappeled down a pretty steep incline, which led him into a pitch-black pass.
Anderegg by this time had reached a second drop of around 20 feet. And using large boulders to secure his climbing gear, he set up to make an even further descent. But what he found at the bottom of this drop, was something he was completely and utterly unprepared for.
Living For Adventure
Zachary Anderegg lives for adventure. He has been known to hike the Arizona and southern Utah slot canyons. He loves nothing more than climbing and is extremely sporty. On one of his adventures though, he made a discovery that would change his life forever.
Left To Die
Deep down, at around 350 feet below the canyon’s edge, was a little dog, trapped and helpless. Lying beneath a crevasse which Anderegg reckoned was too deep for it to have survived falling from without it breaking any bones. Sadly the dog seemed to have been deliberately abandoned and left to die.
Anderegg left the canyon straight away. He later returned with a towel, food and water for the poor skeletal dog. But it wouldn’t be until a few days later, on the Monday that he could return with adequate rescue gear to haul the dog out from the pothole.
He was convinced that the animal didn’t have long to live, Anderegg made all the preparations to abseil directly down the rock face to make the rescue. The hiker had seen the terrible state the dog was in and prepared himself for the worst. He knew that he needed to act fast and get him to a vet before it was too late.
On His Own
Armed with nothing more than a cat carrier from the local animal hospital and with the fire and police departments telling him that they were unable to help, Anderegg was on his own. But he was more than determined. “When I saw him my heart just absolutely broke,” he said to Today.
Barely Clinging To Life
The pooch was in a very bad way, though. He was severely emaciated and, Anderegg was certain he was barely clinging to life. Delicately placing the dog slowly and carefully into the crate, then, the rescuer hoisted the weak animal up to the surface and rushed him straight to hospital.
The dog spent the next day and night at the animal hospital being cared for. It was there, too, that the full extent of the abuse to this poor animal became apparent. Shotgun pellets were found embedded in his flesh, and his teeth were totally blackened from malnourishment.
Affectionately nicknamed “Puppy,” the dog was awfully weak. But with the help of the amazing doctors, Anderegg, his wife Michelle and a few friends took turns in caring for the pup while the search for a new home began.
Puppy was in such a bad way that even when it was time to leave the vet, he was still far too weak to stand. However, when Anderegg took him home, the rescued dog mustered enough energy to wag his tail. Anderegg took this as a thank you sign that things were going to be okay.
With lots and lots of love and affection, every day, Puppy grew stronger. And so too did the bond between the dog and his rescuer Anderegg. In fact, they even renamed Shadow due to the close quarters that he kept with his new human companions. Anderegg and his wife soon came to realize that maybe they couldn’t give him up after all.
A Higher Being
Anderegg believes Riley was perhaps placed on a path by a much higher being in order to save his own life as much as he had saved the dog’s. Anderegg’s own personal and emotional canyon was carved out during a childhood spent at the hands of bullies.
A Trusting Trio
Along with the dog’s new brother Kohi, Riley and Anderegg have now left their abusive pasts way behind them. The trio regularly undertake adventures together, along with Michelle, exploring the canyons and lakes of Arizona and Utah.
Riley is now a very happy and healthy dog. In fact he even has his own Facebook page! Anderegg wrote on it, “He has become a cherished member of our family. He is without doubt one of the sweetest dogs I’ve ever known.”
[Featured image credit: Canyon Puppy @ Youtube]