Paramedic rescues blind dog missing for week

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Sage, the 12-year-old canine, wandered away from the Cole family's home in outside Boulder Creek, north of Santa Cruz, on February 24.

"Our neighbors and other members of the community helped us search day and night for a week", owner Beth Cole told the newspaper.

Dan Estrada, the Cole family's next door neighbor, was the person to eventually find Sage, although it was completely by accident. Fearing she was dead, Estrada said he quickly climbed down the slope, ran to the stream and when he saw her weakly trying to lift her head and drink from the stream, he scooped her up, hugging and kissing her. "Man, it was really emotional".

Estrada, who is a paramedic/firefighter in Livermore, put Sage over his shoulders and carried her up the ravine.

"We'd nearly given up hope", Cole said. "Since she's returned home people have been bring by snacks for her; one neighbour cooked her a steak". An animal lover with two rescue dogs, Estrada watched the search parties convene on his lawn and heard stories as his wife and kids joined in the hunt.

"Everyone was together. There was a lot of tears and it was happy reunion", said Estrada.

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"If dogs could smile I think she was smiling at the time", he said.

"Someone dropped him off at the station and said they couldn't take care of him anymore", said Estrada.

Barnabas, Estrada's dachshund-terrier mix, was rescued from a Modesto trailer park as a puppy. "I know this dog is a sweetheart - when I saw her lifeless body - I thought this was a recovery effort". "He's very intelligent, very feisty". "Santa Cruz is a huge dog community".

As a result, when Sage's family offered Estrada a reward, he declined it.

Estrada and Lopez, who also founded Wolfpak Leatherworks, created seven custom leather dog leashes - one for each day Sage was lost. They will be raffling off the leashes at a celebration for Sage in Boulder Creek on March 18, and all proceeds will be donated to the Santa Cruz County Animal Shelter.

Sage's determination to survive also inspired the Boulder Creek and surrounding neighborhoods to live by three important lessons, according to Estrada.

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