Her name is simply Mo, but after surviving nine treacherous months in the Oregon mountains during the harshest winter in nearly a century, this 14-year-old dog more than lives up to her new nickname: The Legend.
The deaf, senior Chesapeake retriever disappeared while on a hunting trip with her family, reports the Dayton Daily News. Although the pup was too old to join the Idaho-based Camerons on the hunt, she still kept them company in their camper. On this September excursion, however, Mo ventured out of the vehicle.
According to the Idaho Statesman, Cindy and Darwin Cameron spent three months in the area searching for Mo, blanketing the terrain with photos of their beloved old girl. A few leads had turned out to be false alarms, so they were naturally skeptical about getting their hopes up when an experienced dog rescuer named Cheri Glanker tracked them down.
A dog who seemed to fit Mo’s description had been found and brought to Glanker. The canine was in rough shape; she’d lost about 50 percent of her body weight, was covered in ticks and fleas and had collapsed on a ranch off Idaho 55 near Horseshoe Bend. Glanker quickly posted about the dog on Facebook and the outreach from the concerned community was immediate, with many commenters suggesting the dog was Mo.
Despite her poor condition, there were signs she was indeed Mo. For one, the dog was obsessed with chasing squirrels — a major Mo pastime. But even more telling were her various subtle reactions upon reuniting with the Camerons in their home.
“They all expect this kind of Disneyland response like you see sometimes in videos when veterans come home,” Glankler said. “And to be perfectly honest, that’s abnormal. People don’t understand that [the dogs] have gone into survival mode.”
Because Mo had experienced serious trauma out all alone in the wilderness for almost a year, even adjusting to familiar faces would take some time. Still, Glanker could tell this reunion was meant to be.
“I knew right away,” Glankler said. “She went to Cindy and pushed her head into Cindy’s belly. Cindy was looking her over and looking for all the signs that this is Mo — a stitch in her right eye, her fatty tumor.”
Then the dog walked over to Darwin and sat right down on top of his foot, another “Mo moment.”
Finally, they brought out the final test — Mo’s dog bed. The group was hoping the pup would recognize this artifact from her formerly safe and snug life. Bingo. The way the dog sniffed at her bed made it all too obvious that the Camerons had their girl back.
RELATED: Leaving Your Dog in the Car Can Turn Fatal ‘Dangerously Fast’ Warns the PEOPLE Pet Vet
Over the next few days, the way the dog expertly explored her old digs made her owners 100 percent certain that this fateful reunion was meant to be. The Camerons are now focused on getting Mo healthy and making up for lost time, as well as thanking all the people along the way who made this happy ending possible.
“The sheriff’s office, the hunters who set aside their tags and their hunting trips to help look for a lost dog,” Darwin Cameron told the Idaho Statesman. “Boy, we’re blessed to have her back.”
Meanwhile, Cheri Glanker has her own take on Mo’s return. “Who saved Mo? Mo saved Mo,” Glankler said. “Even here when I would take her out on a lead, she was searching. She knew who she was looking for. She’s incredible.”
In honor of the brave senior dog, Glanker intends to starts a new rescue group called “Legends of the Paws.”