WEST JORDAN — Daniel Cline, a firefighter with Great Basin Fire based in Salt Lake City, loves his dog Maja.
"My dog is my entire world," he said in an interview Tuesday. “That dog has saved my life personally more times than I can count. She’s my life. Means everything to me to have that dog back."
She disappeared from her Taylorsville backyard July 22.
But Cline couldn't go search for her because he was assigned to fight the Dollar Ridge Fire in Duchesne and Wasatch counties.
"I'm out here for my dog, so I can afford a place for her and (me)," he said as he was packing his bags to leave fire camp at the Duchesne County Fairgrounds and head home.
Maja, who is only 1 ½, somehow disappeared from the backyard of the house Cline shares with his father, near 6200 South and 4000 West. His father has checked shelters for her and put up missing posters. Cline even posted his missing dog on social media, but no news.
“It’s so hard to focus out here. I’ve been thinking about going home ever since it happened, ever since Sunday,” Cline said on Tuesday.
Some Duchesne residents volunteered to drive to Taylorsville to put up missing dog posters as a way to thank him for his efforts fighting the fire.
“The community out here has been awesome. I couldn’t ask for better people,” said Cline. “But it’s been hard. No sign of her anywhere.”
Since the Dollar Ridge Fire is nearly out, fire managers decided they could let Cline go home Tuesday to take care of the only thing burning in his mind: Maja.
Wednesday morning, he started looking for her.
Then Thursday, he got the phone call he'd been waiting for: Maja was at the West Jordan Animal Shelter.
He couldn’t wait to see her, and when he walked into the shelter, it was obvious Maja couldn’t wait to see him.
“Maja!” he yelled in excitement as soon as she was let out of her holding room.
Maja ran to him, squeaking and whimpering, wagging her tail as fast as she could.
“Good girl! I missed you,” said Cline, who fell back a few times while squatting because Maja kept jumping on him and knocking the hat off of his head.2 comments on this story
It turns out, Maja most likely escaped from her backyard and just wandered the area for the past four days and nights.
"She must have just been looking for Dad,” Cline said. "She continued to walk by the same house and then was spotted all the way down on Redwood. She was up on 4400 West."
Animal control picked her up and brought her to the shelter.
Cline said he'll build a better fence to make sure she doesn't get out again.
First, though, he planned to give her treats. Lots and lots of treats.
“I’m going to give her a lot of love, man,” said Cline. “A lot of love.”