Spring is here | VailDaily.com

Spring is here

EAGLE, Colorado – Searchers didn’t find Spring. Spring found them.

Spring, a greater Swiss mountain dog, had been missing 13 days when she wandered up to a couple enjoying their Saturday afternoon at Diamond S ranch, east of Eagle.

“She’s acting like nothing happened,” said Sue Lan, who owns Spring along with Michael Harms.

But of course, lots of things happened.

A few days after Spring spotted some deer running across a trail on Bellyache Ridge and bolted, more than 50 people joined a searching party. They scoured the area, from Bellyache to Eagle, but came up empty.

A dedicated core group of searchers spent hours each day, from 5 a.m. or 6 a.m. until sundown. They had searchers on ATVs and anything else they could think of.

And yes, they thought of the worst, but not for long.

Spring was out there 13 days, and while others might have given up hope, Lan and Harms did not, nor did their core group of searchers.

Local ranchers knew it, too. They searched around lions’ dens and found nothing.

“There were people who told us she was gone, that the mountain lions are out. But our core group always knew,” Lan said. “There is much smaller and easier prey than a 100-pound dog.”

Spring’s back

Justin Ernest found Spring – or maybe it was the other way around.

He’d been flipping through the Vail Daily while having lunch Friday, reading a story about the search for Spring. He thought how tough it would be to lose a dog that way, he said.

Fast forward to Saturday.

Justin and his girlfriend were outside at Diamond S, enjoying their day, when their 5-year-old blue heeler came trotting up. Their dog whined a little, which it never does, so they knew something was up.

Around the corner they heard footsteps that sounded like another animal, and wandered over to investigate.

Ernest looked around the corner and knew immediately it was Spring.

“When I saw her I said, ‘Oh my god, that looks like the missing dog! That’s the dog in the newspaper! That’s Spring!'” Ernest said.

He knew it was Spring, but more importantly Spring knew it was Spring.

“I called her by her name and she trotted right over,” Ernest said.

Spring strolled into the house and collapsed on the floor. She was 20 pounds lighter and exhausted, but happy.

“Everyone feels better that she’s home,” Ernest said.

Spring was found because everyone was so diligent, Ernest said.

“I had gotten a phone call to be on the lookout for her, I’d seen the posters and the story in the paper,” Ernest said. “It was great experience to be part of it.”

Lan and Harms took her to the vet, where she got a clean bill of health.

They had searched the Diamond S area twice on that first Saturday, then again on Sunday. But it’s a massive area.

“Up where we live there are a lot of places to get lost,” Ernest said.

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or rwyrick@vaildaily.com.

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