It took a village, but a dog that fled a car accident is home
For more than a month, countless animal lovers across a rugged swath of western Colorado were gripped by the same question: Where is Mia?
The shy, 8-year-old rescue dog, with brown spots and floppy ears, was lost in the winter cold.
Her owner, Charles Reigies, remembers the moment she disappeared, the day after Christmas. He and his girlfriend, Hanna Poscente, were driving back home to Grand Junction on Interstate 70 in one of the first storms of the season. Reigies hit a patch of black ice, and they went swerving. The Jeep crashed onto its side.
"And the time I came to, she was hurt and the dog was gone," he said.
It was dark out, and they were miles from any town, about two hours from home. An ambulance rushed Poscente to a hospital with a broken neck. As Reigies waited for a tow truck, he kept searching for Mia in the snow.
But there were no signs of her.
The next day, Poscente, now home, reactivated her Facebook account just to post about Mia. To look for help. She joined groups dedicated to lost and found pets across the region. Days passed. The posts were liked and shared. Strangers in small towns separated by miles of frozen desert, mountains and canyons kept searching for Mia and posting daily updates online.
"They were like their own little village looking for Mia, a dog they had never met before," Poscente said.
And if that village had a mayor, it would be Janet Cross, who lives about 20 minutes from the crash site. She had heard that pets will keep returning to where they've lost their people. So, 10 days after the crash, she set up a trail camera at the site. She could see that Mia was still coming back twice a day.
"She's looking at the spot. She's looking for her family. She's looking skinny," Cross said. "So yeah, it was pretty heartbreaking."
It was also hopeful. Mia was alive.
Over the next couple of weeks, people called and messaged with Mia sightings. And Charles and Hanna came back to check the crash site as often as they could. There were several near misses. One afternoon, they left at 5. The camera recorded Mia at 7.
"You could tell she was like, 'Wait, I smell them,'" Poscente said, smiling.
The fact they live two hours away from their crash site just made everything harder. Reigies, who found Mia at an animal shelter in 2018, kept grieving her over and over.
"Just any day we came back empty handed, it was terrible," he said.
Meanwhile, Mia's story was still being shared continually on Facebook. And animal control had given Cross a trap, which the agency required her to check every hour. So she did that, parking at a nearby gas station between checks.
Finding Mia basically became her full-time job.
"But I just couldn't give up," Cross said. "I just couldn't give up on her."
Then things got more dire. A deer fence the car crash had destroyed was rebuilt, and many of Mia's online followers worried she was trapped behind it. There were no Mia sightings for eight days.
Finally, Poscente received a fateful call from a woman.
"I'm looking at your dog," she remembers her saying.
Mia was about 10 miles from where the couple had crashed. A friend drove Poscente, still in a neck brace, to the area.
That first night, Mia got scared off. But they stayed at a nearby hotel, and the next morning, Poscente decided to try one more time. Her friend left to take a meeting by phone, and Poscente started walking down the train tracks as snow fell. She looked up and to her left, and there Mia was, completely camouflaged in the snow and sagebrush.
Mia didn't get scared. She didn't run off. She yawned and started walking toward Poscente, who filmed the moment with her cell phone.
"Hi, baby, hi!" Poscente says in the video, her voice hoarse with emotion as Mia ambles closer. "Oh my God."
Then the video cuts off, because Mia started jumping all over her. When they got home, Mia knocked Reigies off his feet.
"And as soon as I saw her in there, it was over," he said. "It was just tears galore.
Mia's ribs were showing, and her short white fur was dirty, but otherwise she was the same: a little goofy and pretty quiet — unless she's eating. And she has done a lot of eating since she got back.
"She's just a real sweet pup," Reigies said, patting her on her stomach.
Thanks to the help of many people, Mia made it home — after one month and one day.
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