The desert is no easy place to survive—especially for a dog, a creature that oftentimes isn’t necessarily bred to thrive in hot, dry climates.
When pup Ily was lost in the desert near Phoenix, Arizona for over two months, though, that’s exactly what she did; survive, until she was able to be reunited with her tearful but happy owner after a grueling 65-day separation.
Ily’s owner helped the world see the gratitude both she and dog experienced when they were brought back together again, capturing their reunion on video that was later shared with ABC News for a heartwarming story that touched the lives of viewers everywhere.
The moment she reaches out to touch her beloved pet after a long, 2-month wait is sure to bring a tear to your eye.
The story started off with a heartbreaking accident, one that left dog owner Rose Sharman seriously injured and one of her two dogs dead.
She had been riding on I-17 in between Phoenix and nearby Flagstaff, Arizona when one of her RV’s tires blew out on the hot desert highway and the large vehicle crashed. The incident left her bedridden in the aftermath and took the life of one of her two pets, but the other dog—Ily—took off via the broken windshield and didn’t look back.
Unable to head out after the dog herself, Sharman was heartbroken; Ily’s name, short for “I Love You”, was just one of the many examples of just how strong her bond was with the 1-year-old puppy. She was in no kind of physical condition to head out into the Arizona desert under the unforgiving heat and bright light of the June sun, leaving her at the mercy of others to find her lost companion.
The Phoenix community may be one of the largest in the United States, but it’s also one of the most tight-knight. It hardly came as a surprise when volunteers started to offer their services for a dog search—and then more and more signed up to help out with the efforts, ultimately growing the search party to around 100 strong.
It wasn’t an easy task, but the volunteers searching for Ily took the quest incredibly seriously. Some even camped out in tents out in the desert, so as not to lose time backtracking for things like rest and recovery during the hunt.
The search seemed impossible, especially as time went on. Each summer, the Arizona news tells the tale of another adventurous, foolhardy hiker who either perishes of grows gravely ill attempting to survive their favorite form of sport during the unforgiving heat; to believe that a 1-year-old dog would be able to survive in the desert on its own as the days turned into months became harder and harder to do.
After 65 days, though, someone finally had some good news.
More than two months after volunteers began to canvass the miles surrounding the original site of the crash, someone had a picture for Rose.
“When I went down there, she wagged her tail for the first time when she finally saw me,” Rose said, with tears in her eyes.
Two dogs had been found wandering together, severely underweight but otherwise hardly worse for the wear. Sure enough, one of the two was none other than Ily—and to Rose’s disbelief, her puppy was safe and on her way back to her still-recovering human companion.
It turned out that Ily had managed to take shelter shaded from the worst of the hot summer and unpredictable monsoon season—as she had paired up with another stray.
Together, they beat the odds, surviving for an unimaginable length of time before she was ‘caught’ by a humane trap set up to lure her in and bring her back home. Ily’s friend was also taken in, awaiting adoption.
The volunteers who finally found the dog sent a picture to Rose, who confirmed that the captured animal—35 lbs lighter than the dog she’d lost back in June—was indeed her lost friend.
The two were happily reunited and are now recovering together, happily with one another’s support after a harrowing ordeal for both woman and beast.
It’s a tale of survival for the dog, but it’s also a heartwarming tale of the lengths a community will go to in order to bring one of their own back home. Luckily for both Rose and Ily, the Phoenix community was unwilling to give up when all hope seemed slim—and as a result, there’s a happy ending to share with the world.