Real-life ‘Lassie’ helps rescuers find owner who took 22-metre tumble in Tahoe

Search and rescue members loading an injured 53-year-old man into an helicopter after his dog Saul alerted the rescue team to his location. Nevada County Sheriff's Office Search and Rescue

In trouble? Better call Saul (the dog)!

A border collie named Saul is being credited as a “true Lassie” for helping a search and rescue team locate his injured owner who had fallen 70 feet, or 22 metres, from a ridge in a remote section of Tahoe National Forest in northern California last week.

The 53-year-old hiker suspected he had a broken hip and ribs after falling in the night on July 12, according to authorities.

Despite his injuries, the man was able to find a location in the forest with cellphone service around noon the next day and called for help. A team of 25 search and rescue members were deployed to find him.

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What happened next in the field left Sgt. Dennis Haack of the Nevada County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue team dumbfounded.

“At first we didn’t believe it because it sounded like a movie,” Haack told local outlet KCRA. “When (the rescue team) came back and actually described it to us, the reality was that they had followed the dog directly to the victim.”

About seven hours after the man called for help, the rescue team was combing through the area when Saul came barrelling through the woods.

The dog started jumping around, spinning in circles and ran about 20 feet, or six metres, ahead of the search and rescue members before turning back to stare them down, the New York Times reported. Haack told the outlet that he heard a volunteer say over the radio: “Hey, I think this dog is trying to lead us somewhere.”

And lead he did — 200 yards, or 183 metres, directly to his injured owner.

A picture of Saul, the hero border collie that is being hailed as a “true Lassie” for leading Nevada search and rescuers to his injured owner in Tahoe National Park. Nevada County Sheriff's Office Search and Rescue

The team found the 53-year-old under a camouflage tarp and he was airlifted out of the national park for treatment of his severe injuries.

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Haack told the Times that the search team likely would have found the man on their own, but Saul’s loyalty and intelligence should be admired.

“The true credit goes to the subject’s K9 Border Collie that ran through the forest approximately 200 yards and in true ‘Lassie’ fashion to flag down two searchers,” the team said in a Facebook post.

“Great work and skill by all involved today and for the Border Collie, he was transported back to Grass Valley and given a well-deserved dinner,” the post concluded.

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