Family rescues bullmastiff lost for 22 days in Oregon wilderness

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Madison the dog rescued after 22 days alone near the South Santiam River. Photo: Rebecca Heuberger Madison the dog rescued after 22 days alone near the South Santiam River. Photo: Rebecca Heuberger

A family found a big dog that was alone and appeared tired and weak along the banks of the South Santiam River.

The family, later joined by Linn County Sheriff's Office Search and Rescue volunteers, stayed with Madison the bullmastiff overnight then helped hike her out through steep terrain for a remarkable reunion.

It turns out Madison had gone missing in the area of Sevenmile Horse Camp on the Fourth of July. She was lost in the woods for 22 days.

Ten-year-old Madison was initially identified by a deputy who remembered seeing a lost dog poster in the area.

Photos: Madison the bullmastiff rescued after 3 weeks alone in forest

The rescue efforts started unfolding at 7:45 p.m. on Saturday.

A family hiking along the river found the dog about two miles upstream from Latiwi Creek Road in steep terrain with no easy way out, according to the Linn County Sheriff's Office. 

The family hiked out of the forested area and called the sheriff's office. They then hiked right back in to stay with Madison.

At about midnight, a search and rescue team was deployed to the area to make sure the family was safe.

They made contact with the family at 3 a.m. on Sunday. Everyone was OK, including Madison. The family had fed her granola bars and provided a sleeping bag to help her rest comfortably.

Due to the difficult terrain, rescue crews waited until daylight before attempting to hike out with the family and the dog.

At about 6:30 a.m., they began the journey that included climbing up a steep rock face and then back down the other side before going several hundred yards through a creek. At one point, Madison had to swim as the group traversed in waist-deep water, according to deputies.

They were able to identify a route using GPS from the creek up to the Santiam Wagon Road that involved moving through thick brush and up 200 feet in elevation.

At 9:45 a.m., the group had reached the main road. Madison was reunited with her waiting owners.

"Needless to say, they were relieved to have her back," according to the Linn County Sheriff's Office.

Fox 12 spoke with the dog's owners Monday night and they reported Madison is eating, sleeping and doing great, but they figure she lost around 30 pounds.

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