After 13 days alone in the Utah desert, Lily the Vizsla dog was found ♥
A dog owner’s worst nightmare becomes a reality
Halfway into a 10 day classic American road trip with my best friend and our two dogs, we went through one of the most intense emotional rollercoasters ever. Kacie’s dog, Lily, escaped from doggy daycare and led us on a whirlwind, dog tracking expedition in between the tall red mountains and along the clear Virgin River in southern Utah. This is a combined post of Kacie’s experiences, my experiences, and the hired dog tracker’s experiences that helped us eventually find and be reunited with Lily. I also made a time line to help keep everything in order.
We felt every emotion imaginable, learned some valuable lessons about how to act and search for lost dogs, made multiple friends in the small towns, and were shown immense love and support from all over the globe. And most importantly, we got Lily back home where she belongs ♥
It took 2 professional dog trackers, over $10,000, more than 10 volunteers, 2 drones, at least 10 other dogs, and 14 days to reunite Lily and her owner, Kacie.
Started with a beautiful sunrise
Kacie, Lily, Brandy and myself started Thursday, June 23rd with a lovely 4 AM alarm, which was only snoozed 3 times, to go see the sunrise at an epic overlook. (Kacie= human, Lily= Vizsla dog, Brandy=Aussie dog) But even with the extra 27 minutes of interrupted sleep, we made it to La Verkin overlook with plenty of time for the sunrise. We had watched the sunset there the night before and decided to try to be artsy and get sunset and sunrise pictures from opposite sides of the cliff, and Kacie would be in charge of the panoramas.
After watching an epic sunrise over the red mountains of Utah, we drove to the Doggy Dude Ranch (DDR) in Rockville, Utah and dropped off the dogs for their day of supposed fun, games, and new furry friends. The reason we had to find a place to board the dogs is because the dogs are not allowed inside Zion National Park.
Lily jumped a fence at the DDR and bolted into the Utah desert. We searched high and low and all around the Utah desert for 13 days before Lily was found by a neighbor and reunited with her mom. Lily was found exactly two weeks after she went missing from Rockville Utah.
After dropping the dogs off at Doggy Dude Ranch around 7 AM, Kacie and I spent the morning hiking up to Angel’s Landing and the early afternoon hiking down the Narrows of Zion. On the shuttle bus back down to our car, I turned my phone on to see if any of my millions of friends had texted me about how awesome I am… but when my phone received enough signal to start receiving texts, there was one text that stood out from the rest. It was a text from the Doggy Dude Ranch saying that, “if we got this message, to please have Kacie call them.”
Without a word, I handed the phone to Kacie and she called the DDR. When Kacie got off the phone all she said was, “Lily is missing, she’s been missing since 10 this morning and they don’t know where she is now” in the most monotonous tone I’ve ever heard out of my best friend… We got this awful news and we were 1 hour away from the DDR where she jumped the fence at 4 hours prior.
It was the longest and slowest shuttle ride of my life. Eventually I felt like yelling in my best Chandler Bing voice, “Could this shuttle BE any slower??” but I didn’t think that would help the situation. So instead, we called Lily’s vet to get her tracking number, naively thinking that once we got that number we could push a button and be led directly to sweet Lily’s whereabouts. But low and behold, HomeAgain microchips are not even close to having a GPS signal to lead you back to your lost fur baby. Oh no. HomeAgain microchips only work when a dog is turned into a shelter that has a scanner for the ID. Then the shelter can see the pet’s and owner’s information and be reunited with each other. To add to the frustration of the situation, the call kept dropping, and we eventually found out that Lily’s HomeAgain microchip had expired. So Kacie quickly paid to have it turned on again, just in case someone were to turn her into a shelter around the area. When we finally got to the Doggy Dude Ranch after 3 PM we were told that the last sighting of Lily was at 11:30 AM that morning…
We had no idea where Lily was or what she was thinking.
Lily was lost in the desert.
The Doggy Dude Ranch is on the outer edge of Rockville, Utah and very close to Springdale, Utah where Zion National Park is. There is a 2 lane highway that runs through the towns with houses and mountain ranges on both sides. To the south of the road lies the Virgin River that Kacie had hiked up earlier that morning. Lily was seen running towards the river multiple times by witnesses. There are multiple areas we saw along the river that had apple trees, so we hope Lily enjoyed herself some fresh apples a few times. Besides the immediate area next to the Virgin River, the terrain Lily was lost in is very dry, with little desert vegetation and very little shade. There are cactus, stickers, burrs, thorn bushes, and just about every other pokey vegetation you can think of, you will find it in the Utah desert. Temperatures started around 80° in the early morning and hit at least 104°+ by 2PM each day. And in the desert, there is no cloud cover, but luckily shade spots were bearable.
Doggy Dude Ranch property
Fence she jumped over
You can easily see where the Virgin River runs in the photo below
One of the ripe apples with Zion in the background
Tracking Lily’s scent
One of the many backroads we drove and walked along calling her name
The sightings and where we looked
Below is a GoogleEarth shot of the area where we searched, put signs, talked to neighbors and such on our search for Lily. Below that picture is a more accurate depiction of our search paths. To say that we went everywhere and did everything we could would be an understatement.
We searched from Grafton to Zion and all the way down to Shunesburg. We searched on the roads. We searched on the trails. In the parks. In the campgrounds. Along the river. In the river. Around the river. Over mountains. Under trees. Over property lines. Through fences with ‘no trespassing’ signs. Around barbed wire fences. If there was a possibility Lily went there, we went there.
We went everywhere we could searching for Lily.
Where Lily roamed
Lily is a 2 year old Vizsla who went missing on June 23 while on vacation with her owner, Kacie. Zion National Park does not allow dogs, so Lily had to go into doggy day care while Kacie entered the park. While at the daycare, Lily jumped a fence and bolted into the wild desert and mountain terrain of southern Utah.
June 23; LILY IS LOST // Kacie and I find out at 3PM and search until 10PM. We walk from Doggy Dude Ranch property in Rockville to Zion National Park in Springdale and all through the Virgin River. Hear of multiple sightings, and follow up with them but no one has seen her since 11:30AM. We went back to St. George where we had a hotel room and AC. We did over 20 miles including Zion hiking this day. Later find out Lily was hit just around the corner from Doggy Dude Ranch around 10:30PM.
June 24; NO SIGN OF LILY, LEFT CAR IN OPEN FIELD OVER NIGHT// We got up at 6AM and drove to Rockville. Searched where we had the day before, climbed mountain at dog park to see what was on the other side, more mountains of course. Original posters went up, originally just posters at post office until I through a fit about it and said we needed at least 50. After no sign of Lily, we left my car with the doors tied open at Doggy Dude Ranch field just in case she came back overnight. The car was filled with Kacie’s clothes, food, goldfish, and dog toys. Found a hotel room in Springdale so that we would be closer.
June 25; NEWS THAT LILY WAS HIT BY A CAR THURSDAY NIGHT // Fily (Doggy Dude Ranch owner) picked us up at 6:45AM to go check on car. Unfortunately no luck. No signs of Lily at all overnight. Put more LOST signs out, ate at Wildcat Willie’s (a delicious restaurant right by our hotel in Springdale). Later our waiter called me (my phone number was on the original posters) and had a tip that Lily had been seen! We shortly got another tip that someone had definitely seen Lily get hit by a car Thursday, June 23 around 10:30PM and run away into a field. Both tips came in less than an hour apart!! So we got pretty pumped up and excited this day. Had quite a few volunteers come and help us today. We put out smelly cat food in places Lily had been seen along with Kacie’s dirty clothes and scent paths around Rockville from the post office to the DDR. Kacie sat for hours in the field she ran into and just talked to Lily, telling her it was okay to come home, until it got too dark and the stars came out. We were constantly awed by Utah’s beauty and we talked often how Lily must be seeing some epic sights on this adventure she’s on.
June 26; KACIE’S MOM ARRIVES, I HAVE TO LEAVE // Overslept this morning. We were beyond exhausted at this point. Just absolutely physically, mentally and emotionally destroyed. Started in Rockville in the morning and searched. We had a lot of helpers from the neighbors and Fily’s friends and other dog loving volunteers. We had 6 of us at one point and set up a grid search from Field of Dreams, where she ran after being hit by a car, all the way to DDR. No luck. Realized that there are no vultures in the sky. GOOD SIGN!! Deborah, the tracker, is on her way from Arizona with her dogs at this point! Nancy, Kacie’s mom gets to Rockville around dinner time, and then I had to leave for Colorado to get halfway home for work on June 28. Kacie’s mom flew in with some of Lily’s items from home with her scent for the dog tracker, Deborah. Heaviest heart I’ve had in a while. I felt like I was leaving a part of my heart in Rockville as I drove away.
June 27; DEBORAH THE DOG TRACKER ARRIVES // After 2 days of no sign of Lily, Fily and the Doggy Dude Ranch paid for Deborah to come and help find Lily. They did this without us even asking, they went above and beyond with helping with Lily. Kacie and Deborah tracked Lily for about 9 miles. Did a big route that ended on a mountain overlooking the DDR. They kept tracking Lily’s scent until dogs paws get too hot. Stop for the day then.
June 28; KACIE HAS TO LEAVE UTAH WITHOUT LILY // Kacie paid for another half day with Deborah. They were able to search until noon when Kacie and her mom, Nancy, had to leave to catch their flight back to Texas. Ridiculously priced margaritas from the Las Vegas airport help Kacie cope with leaving her baby in Utah. Deborah and her dog also leave when Kacie leaves. We do not lose hope in Lily EVER.
Below is Fily, Kacie, Deborah and her husband, Jim.
June 29; VOLUNTEERS CONTINUE THE SEARCH FOR LILY // Even with Kacie and I gone, there are multiple people that come and help search for Lily! Becky Hill started the YouCaring page that had over $1,500 in donations in ONE HOUR. These donations ended up totally over $9,000 and helped Kacie and her family afford to get Lily back!! Volunteers even drove from all over to Rockville, Utah to continue the search for sweet Lily. One volunteer even drove 17 hours from San Francisco!! How awesome are these Vizsla owners?!
June 30; KACIE DRIVES BACK TO UTAH // Kacie, Hillary, and Nancy drive to Utah. start at midnight. drove nonstop until Rockville. By this time, no one had seen Lily in 7 days.
July 2; PREPPING FOR KARIN // Kacie and crew get to Utah. Focus on getting the word out that Lily is lost. Put new fliers on stakes and got everything ready for Karin. Goal was to create awareness about Lily everywhere in a 40 mile radius around the Doggy Dude Ranch. Multiple volunteers came out with and without their own Vizslas and helped search for Lily. Some volunteers brought drones to search from the skies. Kacie received some much needed Vizsla love today and Lily even received a present from one of the volunteers ♥
July 4; KARIN ARRIVES IN ROCKVILLE, BEGINS TRACKING LILY // Karin arrives in Rockville with 5 of her dogs. They began the day by checking Lily’s scents and sightings in reverse chronological order. Her dogs confirmed that Lily was in fact hit by a car on June 23. and Karin even said she was 70% sure that Lily did not survive the car hitting her. BUT then someone called to say they had seen Lily! Lily was seen this day very early in the morning by a man who saw her on the ridges behind his house. Kacie checked it out, but didn’t find anything. The man said the dog was “chocolate brown and had a full length tail” but some people don’t realize that dogs can be red, and Lily’s tail is about 5 inches long… but they checked out the sighting regardless. Unfortunately they were not able to check much out, because Karin’s dogs feet (Cam) were too hot by 2PM. Kacie stayed until noon, then she had to drive back to Texas with her sister Hillary.
Karin’s dog, York, in the wash in the canyon where Lily’s scent was strong!
July 5; LILY IS SEEN MULTIPLE TIMES TODAY // Nancy stayed in Rockville while her daughters drove the 19 hour journey back to Texas. Lily was sighted twice in the mountains. Nancy went all over the routes where Lily had been seen and talked to her softly. Humane traps were set and left out overnight. Drones were flying overhead. Food bowls, and pools of water, and crates with pillows were also set out to entice Lily. Nancy camped out over night in case Lily was still in the area. Nancy saw no sign of Lily.
July 6; KACIE AND HILLARY FLY BACK TO UTAH // After Lily had been sighted multiple times around Anasazi Way but was still running away from anyone who got near her. It was decided that Kacie needed to go back to Utah and get her baby. So, Kacie and Hillary flew to Las Vegas on Wednesday night, and arrived very late. They were picked up by Jane (an incredible woman who helped since day one!) at 2:30 in the morning and made it to Rockville by 3:45AM. Kacie and Hilary slept until about 6AM and then got up to check out the campsite that Nancy had stayed at the night previous.
July 7; LILY IS FOUND!!!!!! // Kacie, Hillary and Nancy started the day at 6 AM by going to the food bowls and humane traps that were set out the night before to see if Lily had been by any of them. There were about 6-7 bowls in a mile radius set out for Lily and they split up to go look at each location. One of food bowls was touched, in the area closest to where she was seen in the wash the day before. They thought it was Lily because dogs are more likely to finish food in a bowl while wild animals, such as raccoons, will eat only part or half of the food in the bowl. While Kacie is doing a route and calling for Lily, she gets a call from a man named Dave who says he “has Lily in his truck.” Running down the mountain she was just on, she calls Karin and her mom to inform them and Kacie’s mom picks her up and they drive to Dave’s house to see if it is Lily and…
IT WAS LILY IN HIS TRUCK!! AFTER MISISNG FOR 14 DAYS, LILY IS FOUND!!!
Kacie ran up Dave’s driveway and Lily immediately leapt from the truck into her arms for some much needed cuddles, and then saw Nancy and jumped midair to her arms for cuddles and love. Dave walked back inside his house during the reunion and Nancy was later able to get the full story of how he coaxed Lily into his truck.
Dave is the hero of this story
Around 6AM, Dave was drinking coffee and looking out his back window towards his porch when he saw Lily drinking water out of his waterfall. He got up for a closer look and Lily was startled and she took off. Nancy said that Dave recognized Lily from all of the posters we had put up around the towns and so he went outside to see if he could see her. He didn’t see her immediately, so he went back inside for a while and then later saw her again standing on his retaining wall! He said “I wouldn’t normally go and check it out, but it looked like the dog off the poster.” He went outside again and called for her, but she took off again.
Dave continued about his morning, but had the idea to go out to his shop and leave a door open in hopes that Lily would go inside. When Dave went back to his shop a few minutes later, he found Lily curled up in a corner and he put some food and water out and let her be.
15 minutes later, Dave went back to his shop to find that all of the water and food was gone. He started working on the opposite side of the shop, and talked softly to Lily, but never actually looked at her. He did an awesome job at gaining her trust. He was able to get close enough to Lily to get a leash on her and he led her to his truck. Once he opened the door to the truck, Lily leapt right in and he said “it was like she was ready to go for a ride.” He took her to the post office where he had seen her missing poster and got Kacie’s name and number off of it. And the rest is history. Dave is the hero of this story.
Happily ever after ♥
Dave’s driveway where Lily was found ↓
Vacant house Lily was sighted at with Nancy
Lily got a welcome home party in Utah!
Fily and the DDR put on a party the night that Lily was found and all of the volunteers that were able came out to see and love on Lilypad. It was a success and everyone was incredibly happy to finally meet the sweet Lily they had been searching for!
Chrissy & Jane (volunteers who helped us every single day)
Kacie, Lily and Fily (owner of the Doggy Dude Ranch)
Kacie, Lily and Karin (the tracker who found Lily)
I know that I personally consider some of the people we met in Rockville and Springdale to be lifetime friends. We were so blessed by the willingness of everyone to help look for Lily, donate money, share posts, send vibes and prayers and call/text us personally. We were shown an immense amount of love, all because of Lily. I still get chills when I think about everything that we went through, the immense amount of helpers we had and how blessed we are to have Lily back in our lives. Once Lily got back to Texas, she visited her vet and was given a clean bill of health. She came away from her two week adventures with a few cuts and scrapes, a few less pounds and was very tired. Otherwise that, she is doing amazing and is loving being back with her family.
THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!
In the end, love is all that matters
Love is how we were able to find Lily
Love from the Doggy Dude Ranch and their helpers
Love from all of the volunteers who came out to help
Love from Kacie’s family
Love from my family
Love from all of our friends
Love from over 230 donors
Love from thousands of shares, comments, likes, vibes and prayers
Love from all across the globe
Love is how we got Lily back
Love from Dave, the man who was the one who found Lily and was loving enough to let Lily trust him
Love is how we got Lily back
Onward and upward,
happened during June 2016