Pup Missing for 2 Days & Stuck in Mud, Found by Rescue Dog on First Solo Mission


After 16 months of specialized training, Tino the German shepherd was ready. A dog was lost somewhere in the woods, and it was Tino’s job to find him.

It was 5:00 a.m., just light enough for Tino to get going. He moved into a muddy, wooded area in McCleary, Washington, to begin searching.

Would he find the dog in time? Was it already too late?

The muddy woods was the last place the dog had been seen, and that was nearly 48 hours before. The lost dog’s owners had searched desperately for their furry pup, and were now relying on Tino to find what they could not.

Calculated and poised, Tino sniffed his way through the dense woods, trying to pick up the trail of an 11-year-old dog named Puppy. The wilderness went on for acres and acres — Puppy could be anywhere.

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Puppy’s owner, Karen James, explained that she’d gone horseback riding with her daughter, who was visiting from Texas. Puppy wanted to tag along, but he seemingly vanished as James explored the land near her home.

After 40 hours of searching, James turned to Three Retrievers Lost Pet Rescue in the Puget Sound. Tino had been prepared for this moment, his first solo rescue mission.

“Tino followed the scent trail to a mud hole about a mile from the house, deep in the woods,” Three Retrievers owner Jim Branson wrote on Facebook.

Stuck in the cold, thick mud was an exhausted, discouraged pup. His head stuck out of the mud, eyes filled with anxiety.

But when Puppy’s eyes met Tino’s, hope flooded into his soul. The humans weren’t far behind, and came prepared with gear for Puppy’s rescue.

“It took three people pulling on ropes to get Puppy out of the mud,” Branson said.

They loaded Puppy up into a wagon, hitched it to the back of an ATV, and hauled the weary, relieved pup out of the woods.

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James was, of course, ecstatic to see Puppy again. She knows Tino was the reason Puppy was able to come home.

“He could not have gotten out of the mud,” James said. “We would not have seen him because he was far enough off the trail.”

“And you know there’s miles and miles, acres and acres of wilderness out there to search,” she said. “We just never would have found him.”

Tino knows he did well. Sitting confidently and grinning with pride, he can count his first solo operation a success.

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A graduate of Grand Canyon University, Kim Davis has been writing for The Western Journal since 2015, focusing on lifestyle stories.
Kim Davis began writing for The Western Journal in 2015. Her primary topics cover family, faith, and women. She has experience as a copy editor for the online publication Thoughtful Women. Kim worked as an arts administrator for The Phoenix Symphony, writing music education curriculum and leading community engagement programs throughout the region. She holds a degree in music education from Grand Canyon University with a minor in eating tacos.
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