A Burmese mountain dog escaped an avalanche that killed her owner, and then survived six days in freezing temperatures before being found alive and well.
The dog, Tiga, was swept up in an April 9 avalanche near Mount Huron and was found Thursday by volunteers who thought they were searching for the pet’s body, said avalanche forecaster Brad Sawtell.
The dog, one of a breed raised to guard Buddhist temples, seemed healthy except for a slight limp, Sawtell said.
“We called its name but it didn’t respond” at first, he said. “We went toward her and she bolted into the woods but she came back to the cars and we checked her tag and it said ’Tiga.”’
Search-and-rescue teams had found the body of Tiga’s owner, Jigmet Dawa, 25, six days earlier.
The tourist from India was killed while hiking at the bottom of the mountain when the landslide broke loose at 12,600 feet and crashed down the mountainside. Two friends — Liam Grey of Alameda, Calif., and Syd Schieren of Nathrop, Colo. — survived.
At the time, searchers found no trace of Tiga.
Sawtell, an avalanche forecaster for the Colorado Avalanche Center, visited the site last week to study the slide and ran into Grey and Schieren. The three organized what they thought would be a search for the dog’s body.
On Thursday, the three men and a group of other volunteers searched for four hours, probing the snow with poles across the 600-foot-wide landslide that had traveled 2,000 feet down the mountainside.
After hanging a prayer flag around a tree stump where Dawa’s body had been found, the group picked up their gear and quietly headed back.
“It had been a neat moment hanging the flag but everyone was bummed because we hadn’t found the dog,” Sawtell said.
Then, at the bottom of the trail, the group saw the dog standing at the trailhead where they had started the search.
Tiga was staying in Buena Vista until she could be returned to Dawa’s widow, who flew to India for her husband’s funeral and burial.