COMMERCE CITY, Colo. – If dogs could talk, Tiger, the 2-year-old shelter rescue would have quite the tale to tell.
Jenny Gonzalez and her family adopted Tiger last year. He is black and brown with stripes resembling a tiger.
“From the beginning, he’s been very sweet. He’s just so friendly and very playful,” Gonzalez said. “He’s part of the family now.”
The Commerce City family went camping in Idaho Springs in early June. According to Gonzalez, Tiger chewed through his tether. He got across the street but came back when she called for him.
“There was a car coming at that same time. It all just happened so fast. He was coming and that’s when he got hit,” Gonzalez said.
Tiger immediately ran off into the woods.
“We kept looking for him for about an hour and half, two hours, and then I called the police because I didn’t even know what to do,” she said.
Gonzalez started a Facebook page dedicated to finding Tiger. Organized search parties combed the woods for days but all leads turned up as dead ends.
“Horrible. Yeah, it sucked,” Gonzales said. “He’s just out there alone and cold…I just felt so bad that I had to come back [to the Denver area] and he was over there.”
Tiger spent 33 nights in the woods before Gonzalez got the call she had been waiting for: a family on vacation from Texas was staying in a cabin about 10 minutes from where Tiger initially ran off and found him with his tags still attached.
“They said he was just sitting at their back door,” Gonzalez said.
According to Gonzalez, Tiger had a serious injury to his back paw. Several of the toes were broken and there was a large open gash. He was also very skinny.
They took him to Animal Critical Care and Emergency Services in Lakewood, where he had surgery to fix his hurt paw.
“They thought they might have to amputate his leg,” Gonzalez said.
Doctors have been able to save the paw, but Gonzalez says they may still need to remove the broken toes. The family is fundraising to help pay for the unexpected vet bills.
Anyone wishing to donate can do so directly to Animal Critical Care and Emergency Services by calling 303-239-1200 and directing funds to Jenny Gonzalez and Tiger.
No one knows how Tiger survived in the woods for so long or where he may have wandered during that time.
“I know there are mountain lions up there and bears,” Gonzalez said.
She says she is just happy to have him home.
“I definitely always stayed hopeful. I’ve heard quite a few stories where people don’t find their dogs until two or three years later,” she said. “I was just like, ‘I’m not going to give up hope until there’s some kind of sign.'”