Shetland Sheepdog found on Martis Peak after being lost for five weeks

Veering off the more travelled snowmobile trails around Martis Peak, Ben Visnye and Luke Markham headed into untracked territory on a hillside in the late morning on New Year’s Eve. Suddenly, Markham spotted a small dug out circle in the snow. From inside the hole, a small dog raised its head — its hair matted, eyes almost closed shut with fluid, and ice balls covering its body. There were no signs other than the dog — no tracks from people, skiers, snowmobilers, or even the dog itself.

“The dog was literally frozen into the snow,” Visnye said.

The two Kings Beach locals pulled the dog out of the circle — made either by its body warmth melting the snow around it, or by pawing a place for itself — covered it with a jacket, gave it a bite of a granola bar and some water, and placed it on one of their laps for a five-mile snowmobile ride back home. Once home, they put the dog next to the fire and made a few phone calls, the first to the owners’ phone number displayed on its tag.

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SURVIVOR: After enduring freezing temperatures and frequent snowstorms for approximately five weeks, Seamus, a Sheltie, is reunited with his family on Jan. 2. Pictured, left to right: Patrick Concannon, Sarah Felicetti (Donner Truckee Veterinary Hospital Kennel Attendant and Veterinary Assistant), Nedra Benites (DTVH Office Manager), and Diane Concannon. Photo by Eve Quesnel/Moonshine Ink

Markham then took the barely surviving animal to the Donner Truckee Veterinary Hospital in Truckee where Seamus, the Shetland Sheepdog, often known as a Sheltie, was given IV fluids to support stressed organ systems and to treat dehydration. Blood samples were taken to check organ systems for normal function. After Seamus experienced diarrhea after eating small frequent feedings of a bland diet, he was given GI medication to treat possible parasites. The Sheltie weighed a mere 15 pounds when he entered the hospital, down from his already slight build of 25 pounds. After a full examination and administration of medications, DTVH staff determined the dog had arrived at the nick of time — he was weakened, but was going to survive, so they lay him on a heated bed with extra blankets for a full night of warm sleep.

Hospital staff said that when Seamus first arrived at the hospital he was listless and disoriented from his traumatic experience, but when he received TLC he became more enthusiastic, connecting with the people around him.

On the other side of the story are Seamus’s owners, Moss Beach residents (between San Francisco and Half Moon Bay) Diane and Patrick Concannon, who received the good news as they were driving to the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. Diane looked down at her phone and thought, “A 530 area code? Could it be? Is it possible that Seamus is still alive?”

On Saturday Nov. 28, Seamus ran away behind their house in Agate Bay. Two days after Seamus had been missing, a woman reported seeing a dog on Highway 267 on the Tahoe side, but the dog fled when she tried to get his attention.

“We looked everywhere,” Diane explained. “We knocked on doors and posted fliers in the neighborhood and at the Humane Society and at veterinarians.”

After receiving the snowmobilers’ phone call, the Concannons rushed up from Southern California to see their miraculous fuzzy family member who had survived outside for approximately five weeks in below-freezing temperatures and early snowstorms.

The happy reunion happened Jan. 2 at Donner Truckee Veterinary Hospital. Just before the family left to go home, they praised the hospital staff for the wonderful care.

“We can’t thank you enough, and Ben and Luke, for everything you’ve done,” said Patrick, just before leaving the vet’s office with a tough Sheltie on his road back to health. “We can’t believe we have our Seamus back.”

9 Responses to “A New Year’s Eve Miracle”

  1. Debbie

    What a wonderful story!!! Thanks for posting it! I’m hugging my dogs tighter tonight and sending one to Seamus as well!

  2. Susan L.

    So very glad Seamus was rescued in the nick of time. Here in New Hampshire, a few weeks ago a Sheltie called Molly was rescued after two years of living on her own. Her owners had moved away and left her behind. It took a couple of months before people realized that Molly was in trouble. After that, despite efforts to catch and help her, Molly evaded everyone for 18 months. She lived through last winter which was blizzard after blizzard and double digit below zero for much of the time. The trap that finally caught Molly was set by Granite State Dog Recovery, a wonderful organization and its many volunteers who brought Molly finally to safety. Molly also was 15 pounds, down from her normal 25. It is amazing how smart and hardy our little Shelties are. Last I heard, Molly was up for adoption. I’ve heard nothing about the owners who left her behind.

  3. Sullivan

    What a miraculous way for this family to start their new year. It is so heartwarming to hear that Seamus, by the grace of God, was able to survive this horrendous ordeal. I’m glad your home sweet baby.

  4. Bobbie Pyron

    OMG what an amazing, heart wrenching story! So happy for Seamus and his family! If only that little dog could talk…

  5. Gloria

    A true miracle!

    OMG, what a wonderfully happy ending. Brings tears to your eyes! I am sure Seamus will never again wander away from home. Thank you to all involved in Seamus’s rescue and recovery!

    A special blessing to Martis Peak, Ben Visnye and Luke Markham as you are true guardian angels! Virtual hugs to you all!


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