Man reunited with missing dog after rafting trip on remote river

Merlin, Ore. — To Aaron Lieberman the saying “man’s best friend” makes perfect sense. He’s had his black lab Chetco for a year, but last week he didn’t know if he would ever see his best friend again.

“It was hands down the most emotionally and physically traumatic trip I’ve had,” Lieberman said.

Lieberman was on a rafting trip with friends on the remote Owyhee River in South Eastern Oregon when he lost his dog.

“It went from great to not so great very quickly,” he said.

On the second day of the trip he woke to the news that Chetco was acting strangely, and had run off. After nearly 36-hours of searching the rugged and wild terrain the group had to get back on their rafts to finish their trip down river. Lieberman said leaving the spot where he last saw his dog was a tough decision.

“The worst thing about losing a dog is every minute it gets worse,” he said.

But days later a fellow river guide from Grants Pass and friend, Dove Miller, was rafting the same stretch of river when she spotted him.

“I saw him and I was like, ‘Oh my God that’s Chetco!’ And his ears perked up and he peeped out from the side of the river and he started jumping and yelping,” Miller said.

Miller said Chetco was a little scared, but in good condition, and jumped right in their raft.

“He knew we were looking for him,” she said. “His rescue team was on the way.”

When they got cell phone service they immediately reached out to Lieberman. They say it’s a small miracle.

“Getting Chetco back was a magical, magical moment it was really good,” Lieberman said.

Lieberman plans to get Chetco a GPS collar before heading out on any other rafting adventures. He and Miller joked that the dog was going on a “vision quest.”

Now Chetco’s just one head pat away from Lieberman, the two are sticking by one another.

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