Three Salt Lake men skied six miles into the Tushar Mountains last weekend in search of adventure and found a new friend - a seriously injured yellow Labrador retriever.
They were descending a narrow chute when Robb Welch spotted what looked like a cougar in a rocky outcrop at about 11,000 feet.Jim Paul hiked back up the mountain for a closer look and realized it was a dog.
"It was a very, very odd place to find a dog," said Marshall Denton, the third skier in the group.
The Labrador's front right leg was broken in two places, her right canine tooth was cracked off, she had pneumonia and there were wounds on her face from animals - possibly hawks or eagles - picking at the flesh.
The 5 1/2- to 6-year-old dog had not eaten or had anything to drink for more than a week and was unable to stand or walk, said a veterinarian who examined her. She wore no collar and no one knows where she came from or how she got into the precarious spot.
The three skiers fed her two bagels, a Power Bar and most of their water. They then loaded the 55-pound dog in Denton's pack and made the long trip back to the Elk Meadows ski resort, where members of the ski patrol helped stabilize her.
"It's just a miracle she is alive," said Angela West, a veterinarian at the University Pet Clinic in Salt Lake City, where the friendly but heavily sedated dog was being treated Wednesday.
Tushar, which is her temporary nickname, is eating and drinking and can hobble around on three legs.
"She's the bravest dog I've ever seen," West said.
An intravenous tube provides a steady drip of antibiotics, and painkillers are administered through a patch. Surgery to repair the leg was planned.
Denton is seeking donations to help with the dog's medical bills, which are expected to be between $1,200 and $1,300. Elk Meadows is holding a benefit for the dog April 18, when 50 cents of every ski pass sold will be donated to her medical care.