Finney the Jack Russell Terrier Survives 72 Days Alone in Wilderness

Mary Simpson
by Mary Simpson

Loyal after death, this mini-mutt remained at her owner's side until rescuers arrived.

Photo Credit: Olga Kalimulina /

While the American Kennel Club (AKC) describes the Jack Russell Terrier breed as jaunty and inquisitive, for one little dog in Colorado, the words loyal, loving, and devoted are a better fit. You see, back in August 3-year-old terrier Finney headed out for an ambitious mountain trek with her owner, a seasoned hiker. But plans took a tragic turn and this feisty pooch ended up spending 72 days alone in the wilderness after her owner passed away from hypothermia.

In the days and weeks that followed their disappearance, more than 100 volunteers scoured the trails running up and down 12,500-foot Blackhead Peak in search of the duo. Helicopters dropped teams into the hard-to-reach areas, drones deployed, dogs dispatched, and pictures posted in town in the hopes that one or both might have wandered down from the mountains seeking help.

Sadly, that was not to be, and all assumed that poor Finney and her owner had almost certainly succumbed to the elements.

It wasn’t until October 30th when a hunter riding on horseback and following the trails in search of deer spotted the body of Finney’s owner several hundred feet off the search route. Catching the hunter by surprise was that sitting alongside the man was a fierce little dog barking, baring its teeth and ready to do battle. Wee, devoted Finney had managed to evade mountain predators, source sustenance and find shelter over the 10 weeks since she and her owner had gone missing. All, so she could remain alongside her human and protect him in any way she could.

No surprise this mini-hero was a very hungry girl and that made her rescue a little easier when a can of wet food – laced with a sedative to help calm the frantic pooch - was used as an enticement. Upon rescue, Finney was immediately taken to a local veterinarian for treatment of a nasty gash on her nose followed by a tearful reunion with her pet mama. The once solid 10-pound terrier had lost half her body weight and her ribs were easily visible. No surprise, she also had an insatiable appetite and compulsion to eat, eat, and eat some more. Per her owner, Finney will wake four or five times throughout the night wanting a top-up on her kibble bowl. But that’s no problem for the widowed pet parent who is now devoted to Finney’s full recovery.

So, how did this mighty mini survive so long in the wilderness? The Jack Russell Terrier Club confirms this high-energy dog was originally bred to hunt foxes and vermin plaguing area farms. Methinks that tracking and consuming small rodents would have been second nature to Finney though it wouldn’t have sustained her for much longer. A sad story with a happy ending.

Mary Simpson
Mary Simpson

Sharing space with three seriously judgy Schnoodles and a feline who prefers to be left alone. #LivingMyBestLife

More by Mary Simpson