By Mary O’KEEFE
Montrose Search and Rescue members responded to a dog rescue on Sunday night in the Switzer Falls area.
“We got a call about 6:30 p.m. that a dog couldn’t keep up with his two owners,” said John Camphouse, MSR captain.
Brad Kurtz along with his 15-year-old son Jackson and friend Scott Seiffert began their hike from Bear Canyon toward Switzer Falls with two dogs.
“I had hiked Switzer Falls before with Truman [Kurtz’s dog] and it was not a big deal, but this time we started from Bear Canyon, coming up to Switzer Falls,” Brad said.
Seiffert had his dog with him as well. As the three hikers and their dogs made their way down the path, they were surprised at how rugged the trail was.
“My dogs had cut his paws on the rocks,” Brad added.
The hikers and dogs had to walk over boulders and through several creeks, which for humans was not that bad but for a dog with cut up paws it became increasingly difficult.
They had started their hike at 10 a.m., which normally would have been enough time, but Truman was slowing down.
“He was really dragging. We tried to make a stretcher out of sticks and T-shirts,” Brad added.
The trail was too rough and it was getting late, so about 6 p.m. Brad told Jackson and Seiffert to hike out of the area along with the other dog to get help. They left Brad and Truman with whatever food and water they had left and hiked to the nearby ranger station.
Montrose Search and Rescue was contacted and hiked into the area with a wheeled litter rescue basket.
“We got there about 7:30,” said Camphouse. “The pads on [Truman’s] paws were all cut up,”
Brad would try to walk Truman toward the end of the trail, but the dog would get to a log and just sit down. With the darkness creeping in and the rugged terrain, he decided to wait for help.
“Then Mike (Leum) and Doug (Cramoline) [Montrose Search and Rescue members] came along with the wheeled stretcher,” he said. “It was awesome. I was getting nervous.”
Leum and Cramoline were followed by other MSR members with headlamps and ropes, not knowing what to expect.
“I didn’t know what was going to happen,” Brad said of the wait for help. “[Seeing MSR] was a great feeling.”
Brad added he was surprised to learn that MSR team members were volunteers.
“Those guys were great,” he said. “We were really lucky.”