Family welcomes back dog lost in wilderness for months

WEBER COUNTY, Utah - A Weber County dog lost for weeks near Little Sahara, after he and his special-needs daughter disappeared Easter weekend, is finally home.

The Davis family had all but given up hope on Cooter, a 5-year old mini Aussie. His daughter, 3-year old Diamond, had returned home in near-perfect physical shape in mid-May.

On Tuesday, Tawnie Davis sat in her front yard with Cooter, who is visibly malnourished. She said he's lost 16 pounds, is missing five teeth and is fighting off fleas and ticks.

But the mini Aussie's spirit is none the worse for wear.

"His little tail-- 90 miles an hour, all the time," Davis said, as Cooter eagerly wagged his tail.

The happy pup may have obvious signs of roughing it in the wild for two months, but considering what Cooter's been through, those who know his story will agree it's a miracle he's even alive.

His miracle journey started when Davis said the dogs got spooked and took off when a family member opened their camping trailer door on March 30. The family and local residents launched an extensive search in a 200-mile radius around the dunes.

A month and a half later 30 miles south of the dunes, a power plant work trapped Diamond inside a secure area of the facility.

Cooter was still nowhere to be found.

"You get doubtful when you don't see anything," Davis said. "They're dead or something's got him."

A few days after Diamond returned home, Davis said a man called her to report sightings of Cooter around Vernon-- 40 miles north of Little Sahara. She went to look for Cooter, but said she couldn't find him.

Maryjo Korb, a Sandy woman with strong ties to animal rescues and volunteer work tracking down missing dogs, decided to jump into the search.

"I had three traps set around the small town of Vernon," she explained.

Korb said she made the hour-plus drive from Sandy for two nights around 6 p.m. then stayed until 2 or 3 a.m. in hopes of trapping the lost dog.

At first, she said they caught cats and a skunk, and almost ended up with a Heeler in the trap.

She expressed her doubts that Cooter was even still alive.

"There's no way he could make it two months in the wilderness," she said.

On day three, just before midnight Saturday, she and a friend who also helped in the search checked one of the traps and to their surprise, they found a dog sitting inside.

"Just started squealing and screaming because we said, 'Oh my gosh, it's Cooter!'" She recounted.

Around 2 a.m. Sunday, Davis reunited with Cooter. She said he recognized her and jumped right in their truck to go home.

"I'm very shocked, and very surprised," Korb said. "Obviously he's got a will to live. He wanted to get home."

Now, both dogs are back with their people.

"I'm happy," Davis said. "Our family's whole."

Davis said the vet will need to pull more of Cooter's teeth, and he'll need to get back up to weight.

She said she was so grateful for Korb's work to find Cooter, that she's started this fundraiser to help Korb in her volunteer efforts to track down other missing dogs.