When Sheriff’s Deputy Karen Baltz spotted a black-and-tan dog limping along Highway 87, she had no idea that she was about to rescue not just any lost or stray dog, but a miraculous testament to a dog’s love and dedication to her owner.
Six days earlier, on Nov. 3, Robert Curtis and his Staffordshire bull terrier, Ashley, drove to a deserted canyon south of Round Valley to practice target shooting. Curtis said he always “took Ashley everywhere,” and now that she was suffering from a terminal form of cancer, he wanted to spend every minute he could with her.
As Ashley’s numerous tumors grew larger, she could no longer walk far nor wear an identification collar.
“When she started toward the canyon, I expected her to return shortly as she usually had,” Curtis said. This time, Ashley did not return.
For the three hours after Ashley’s disappearance, Curtis and a friend “combed, sifted and climbed” the rugged canyon looking for his ailing, 12-year-old dog. Returning the next day to search rendered no signs of the canine.
Resigned to the loss, Curtis accepted the dog’s fate and believed that “her wolf instincts had taken over and she had found a safe and warm spot to expire.”
Curtis’ grief and sorrow brought him again to the canyon where he placed among other things, Ashley’s favorite toy, her tennis ball. “Ashley loved to play ball,” he said.
On Nov. 9, Deputy Baltz brought an exhausted and bloodied dog to Star Valley Veterinary Clinic. Veterinary technician Honey Ryan immediately recognized longtime patient, Ashley. She called Curtis.
Despite his shock and disbelief, Curtis arrived at the clinic door in 6 minutes flat to reunite with his amazing dog.
“She could barely stand, but found the strength when she saw me,” Curtis said, his voice quivering with emotion. “I’ll never know what happened over those six days, but she wasn’t ready to give up.”
Although Ashley’s cancer continues to spread and she has trouble walking, she still wants to play ball.
“When she no longer wants to play, I’ll know her time has come,” Curtis said.
For now, despite her grim prognosis, Ashley perseveres. She is a testament to an unbreakable spirit and determination to live.