Rescue Dog Missing in Middle of Desert for 16 Days, Stranger Lays Bait Waiting for Him


You’ve been driving for hours. The shine of setting out on a road trip has worn off and the playlist is starting to drone on.

You’d like to stop now, even just for a break. The desert peels away from you in every direction, the road before you a dark stripe against the wasteland of tan all around you.

Finally! A stop ahead — whether that be a rest stop, a fast food joint, or a questionable gas station, it looks like blessed relief.

So you pull in and hop out for a moment. It’s cool out, not too crowded, and so you leave the windows halfway open so your dog can catch some fresh air while you take care of your own business.

When you get back to the car, though, the dog is gone. Perhaps this scenario has crossed your mind if you’ve traveled before. What do you do with your pupper if you need a pit stop? If they’re small enough you might be able to smuggle them in, but if they’re larger, you have fewer options.

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Jonathon Cline and Margaux Hansberry were faced with a similar scenario. Traveling in California, they stopped in Primm to take a break. They left their white Jindo, Mochi, in the car with the windows partially open.

A person said he’d seen their dog running off into the vast expanse of nothingness, and both Cline and Hansberry were at their wits’ end. Their dog was somewhere, lost in the desert between Nevada and California.

“Surreal,” said Cline. “I didn’t think that my carelessness would pan out that way. We have left him in the car before. All that we were worried about was the temperature. So when we came back and Margaux realized he was gone, my whole world froze.”

There’s more to the story that made finding Mochi even more critical and difficult. The dog had been rescued from Korea just the year before, and he’d been nabbed from a dog meat farm.

Being a rescue and having endured unknown abuse, Mochi suffered from PTSD. The way he tore off into the desert was not promising: would he trust anyone enough to let them lure him back, or was he gone for good?

After spending the next day searching for their beloved dog, the couple posted about him on Facebook. Drone operators flew over the desert, looking for signs of life.

The couple took ATVs across the desert, looking for Mochi. Eventually they got in touch with a trapper after a family spotted the dingy white dog roaming the desert.

But by then it had been almost two weeks. That was both bad and good: bad, because it wasn’t clear if Mochi had been able to eat or drink anything, but good, because he might be hungry enough to allow himself to be lured back with food.

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The trapper set up camp, set up the trap half a mile from her campsite, and waited. The next morning, there was Mochi in the wire cage.

He’d taken the bait! His owners were relieved.

After a trip to the vet, Mochi was deemed to be OK. He’d need a little R&R, but who wouldn’t after two weeks in the wilderness?

“He’s a survivor, twice now,” said Hansberry. That’s one fortunate dog.

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