What’s that you say, Lassie?

Taz, the beautiful, adorable, obviously brilliant dog owned by adventure racer Danelle Ballengee, is in the news this morning.   They were both on the Today show this morning.  This is one heck of a dog.

In case you haven’t heard the story . Danelle was running in the mountains last week when she slipped on some ice and fell sixty feet into a canyon, where she shattered her pelvis.  She couldn’t walk, so got down on all fours and crawled, but only managed to get 1/4 to 1/3 of a mile before dark.  She and Taz curled up and spent the night outside in the winter cold.  In the morning, she knew she couldn’t walk or even crawl. 

Denver’s police chief says he has never seen any dog do what Taz did last week when he lead rescuers to his owner. Although, he believes rescuers would have found Ballengee eventually, he say the search would have lasted longer without Taz.

A more complete story and a photo:

Taz, Ballengee’s dog, stayed by her body for warmth on the first night and even though she says he would repeatedly leave her (presumably to look for help) he would always come back.

"I definitely thought about how easy it would be . . .  to just stop moving and to just lay down and just go to sleep and just die."

Ballengee says Taz ran away on the morning of the third day and rescuers later told her they saw the dog about five miles from where she was. The dog barked at the rescuers, but wouldn’t go near them. Ultimately, the rescuers say they followed Taz all the way to Ballengee, 52 hours after she had fallen.

Danelle, a highly accomplished adventure racer, said she’s had Taz since he was seven weeks old. The television crew brought him into the hospital, and it seriously choked me up.  He was so happy to see her, licking her face, her hand, her everything.  The interviewer joked about giving Taz a nice bone in his Christmas stocking.  Danelle said, "He’s getting a steak in his stocking!" 

Okay, and it’s geeky to say this, I know, but I’ve met this famous dog.  He (and his scrappy mistress) were at an orienteering event a year or so ago. (Adventure racers sometimes play with orienteering because it helps with map skills).  I’m often intimidated by the adventure racing women because they are such serious, serious athletes (and they wear very buff clothes, too).  I noticed Danelle and her dog because they were so unassuming I thought they were regular orienteers.  She was wearing some old sweat pants as I recall, and she was tiny and tough as leather, but it was plain from the way the others treated her that she was a Very Serious Athlete.  She also seemed like somebody you could have a drink with.  Inspiring, honestly.  A real person.

And I love this story about her and her dog.  Hooray for Taz–wonder dog!  Best wishes to Danelle on a full recovery. I bet she’ll be back out there in a year or so, kicking some butt. 

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