ALBANY, Ore. - A family out for a hike found a dog missing more than 3 weeks in the woods.
The hikers found the weak and hungry Bullmastiff in steep terrain along the South Santiam River on Saturday.
They hiked out to call the sheriff's office around 7:45 p.m., then hiked back to stay with the dog.
The sheriff's office responded, concerned there might be a lost hiker, too.
But a deputy involved with the call remembered seeing a lost dog poster in the area. The poster described a 10-year-old Bullmastiff named Madison, who was lost in the area of Sevenmile Horse Camp on July 4.
At about midnight, a team of Linn County Sheriff's Office Search and Rescue volunteers deployed to the area to assess the situation and ensure the safety of the family.
The rescuers made contact with the family at about 3 a.m.
The dog, after snacking on granola bars and dog food, was sleeping comfortably in a sleeping bag provided by the family.
The team decided that due to the difficult terrain they would wait until daylight to attempt the rescue of Madison.
At about 6:30 a.m. Sunday, the group began the process of helping the dog out.
This included a climb up over and back down a steep rock face and several hundred yards of travel in the creek.
At one point, Madison had to swim as the group traversed in waist deep water.
Using GPS, the team was able to identify a route from the creek uphill to the Santiam Wagon Road, a hiking trail that led back to the main road.
At 9:45 a.m., Madison was reunited after 22 days with her owners, Lori Davis and Patrick Milligan from Scio, the sheriff's office said.