Once known simply at Mountain Boy, the fearful dog eluded rescuers for several weeks until D. Lily Azures, a seasoned animal rescuer, was able to capture him and bring him to the Santa Fe Animal Shelter for help. The dog, now known as Colter, is in a foster home with Monica Morris, one of the people who left food for the dog and helped organize the rescue effort.
She’s hoping someone will offer him a home and help bring the traumatized dog out of his shell. Morris said the dog is house-trained and his building confidence.
“He’s officially a couch potato now,” Morris said. “He loves hanging out with my other dogs. He’s relaxing so much more and will let you pet him if you go slowly.”
The fearful dog is typical of many animals that are abandoned or simply lose their way from home or while out with their human guardians, Azures said. She first heard about the shy dog though Lyndi Martinez, a humane education coordinator with Animal Protection New Mexico. Several people, including Mary Shepherd, Michelle Lord and Sloan Cunningham, kept tabs on the dog and alerted others about his plight through social media and the Facebook page Santa Fe NM Lost Pets.
The dog was spotted at the Aspen Vista Picnic Ground on Hyde Park Road, a popular hiking trail near the Santa Fe Ski Basin, sometime in early August. Many suspected the dog had been abandoned because he kept going up to people, but was too traumatized to allow people to rescue him, Azures said.
There were several unsuccessful rescue attempts before Azures was finally able to trap him Aug. 15 using hot dogs and rotisserie chicken.
“I think we were all holding our breath as he approached the trap,” Azures said. “There was a lot of clapping when he was trapped. They’d obviously been very concerned about him.”
At the shelter, the neutered dog was treated for minor injuries and spent some time in the shelter’s rehabilitation center before being fostered with Morris. He had no collar or tags and was not microchipped.
Azures, who has helped look for many animals, including Dodger, a dog that ran away from an accident on Interstate 25 near Eldorado, said many dogs won’t stray far from where they’ve been dumped.
“Abandoned dogs tend to stay right where their people left them,” she said. “Unfortunately, many end up being hit in an attempt to go up to vehicles looking for their owner. They will stay and wait and wait for people who will never return for them.”
That’s tough for an animal lover like Azures. She said she developed a deep love of animals from her grandmother and started to rescue animals at a young age.
“I can’t look away from an animal who is in distress or lost,” she said, “or abandoned. Animals have no voice and look to us for help and love.”
Azures, a Santa Fe waitress who occasionally takes paying rescue jobs to cover traveling expenses, gets calls from throughout the state for help. She’s learned to focus on one dog at a time, but wishes there were more advocates for the animals.
“If I dwell about how many are out there that need help, it will drive you mad,” she said. “So I step in and remove them from harm’s way. It’s worth all the work when I receive a picture of a particular rescue who I helped bring in. They are always smiling.”
Morris, who is considering changing the dog’s name to Journey, said she thinks it’s important to help any dog who has been traumatized or mistreated in any way.
“We must be their stewards as they are innocents and sentient beings whose lives are just as important as any person’s,” she said. “They are vulnerable and need or help, love and respect. The collective consciousness needs to be elevated to include empathy and compassion.”
Those interested in learning more about adopting the dog may email Morris at firstname.lastname@example.org.