SNOWVILLE, Utah – While a Siberian Husky named Neo was wandering the ranchland of northern Utah after the April 4 car crash that killed his Kelso, Wash., owner, dog lovers across the West were networking by phone and e-mail in hopes of bringing him home.
Lt. Lee Perry of the Utah Highway Patrol suggested volunteers concentrate their efforts where Neo had last been seen, about 10 miles west of this small town near the Idaho border, along State Route 30, which leads west toward Nevada.
On Thursday, they found Neo.
"To make something positive out of a fatal car crash, that's about as good as it gets," Perry said Thursday night in a telephone interview.
The 8-year-old dog was wearing the same harness and name tag shown in photos recovered from the car of Joyce Moore, who was killed when her SUV rolled on Interstate 84 in Box Elder County. Perry said her dog stood nearby as rescue crews attended to Moore, but fled when someone tried to catch him.
On Thursday, Cathy Crowder and her friends Dana and Ellen Love, all of Layton, joined forces with another dog lover, Parry Nielsen of Ogden.
Crowder put the impromptu team together after calling Perry to ask how she could help. She said Thursday night they'd been planning to search on Friday — her father had even volunteered to search by plane — but Nielsen called her Thursday morning to say he just couldn't wait.
He arrived first and started going door to door, talking to ranchers and farmworkers, making sure they knew the story of Neo and asking if anyone had seen the dog.
As Perry tells the story, as Nielsen drove nearby roads, a farmworker from a ranch he'd already canvassed waved him down. The worker had gone into a shed to get some wire, found a husky inside who growled at him and backed out quickly, latching the door.
The dog "is in fantastic condition," Crowder reported. "A little bit thin, a little dehydrated. But his pads aren't very worn at all, he really weathered well.
"Very resilient, very sweet-tempered."
The news spread quickly, to Perry of the Highway Patrol, to a dog rescue volunteer named Lynn near Sun Valley, Idaho, who had helped spread the word by e-mail and phone when the dog was missing — and most importantly, to Joyce Moore's sister Deborah Moore, in Kelso, Wash.
Still not done, Crowder gave Neo a lift to the home of Lynn. Deborah Moore jumped in her car and started driving through the night toward Idaho.
Lynn, who declined to give her full name, said in a telephone interview she's spent more than 60 hours over the last week "networking for Neo." She's been in daily contact with Deborah Moore, whom she never knew before the story of the lost dog touched her heart.
"It's my joy and my pleasure to do this," she said. "It's a very happy ending to a very rough couple of weeks for everybody."