The phrase "man's best friend" is a perfect way to describe the endearing relationship between Justin and his rescue dog, Shelby. Justin is an EMT who struggled to cope after witnessing something dreadful on the job. He decided to adopt a dog for emotional support, and the two became great adventure buddies. When Shelby disappeared on a camping trip, Justin's worst fears came rushing back. You won't believe the incredible outcome of one brave dog who spent 28 days lost in the woods.
Justin The EMT
Justin Scott is a father and EMT working out of Santa Clarita in Southern California. As a healthcare worker, he had many days that were rewarding. However, he also has had some severe days when his job proved to be quite a challenge.
Through it all, Justin at least had his adorable son to come home to. Plus, he had a purposeful career that would make any child proud of their courageous father. For the most part, Justin could hold his head high.
Another Day At Work
Though Justin's job consisted of saving people who were in critical conditions, the joyful look on his face could suggest otherwise. At first glance, you wouldn't guess that Justin's job was taking an emotional toll on him.
That would all change on what started out a seemingly normal day. Justin headed out to the site of a car accident prepared to save those who were injured. Little did he know the scene would change his life.
The Victim Was His Friend
After someone called 911 to report a tragic car accident, Justin headed to the scene in the ambulance. It was then that he saw something that shocked him. One of the people involved was his best friend.
Justin immediately got to work along with the rest of his team. Despite their best efforts, Justin's friend passed away. It devastated the EMT worker, who had committed his life to saving others. All of a sudden his job had become a living nightmare.
He Was Struggling Emotionally
Understandably, Justin was having an incredibly difficult time coping with the loss of his friend. Not only was he grieving someone, but he was having to come to grips with the nature of his career.
On top of that, Justin found himself alone during the day when his son was at school. Since he worked the night shift, he found himself consumed by his thoughts during the day. It was then that Justin realized just what he needed.
He Adopted A Therapy Dog
Justin realized that an emotional support animal would be a wonderful help during this time of crisis. He decided to head to an animal shelter to adopt a dog for therapeutic purposes.
He took his son to the shelter to find the perfect dog to join their family. They noticed a red Australian Cattle Dog and decided she was the one. As Justin bonded with the dog, he became filled with relief. He named the sweet canine Shelby.
They Saved Each Other
When Justin brought Shelby out to the shelter parking lot to take her home, he crouched down and told her, "I saved you and now I need you to save me." In the weeks to come, that's precisely what his kind dog did.
The two became best pals. The smile that had faded from Justin's face for so long returned at last. He later called Shelby his "best friend" and his "shelter from the storm."
Going On Outdoor Adventures Together
One of the great things about Shelby is that she wasn't only a comfort indoors, but also an adventure companion outside. Justin loves to take his son camping, and now they could bring Shelby along.
Like many dogs, she loved the outdoors and was large enough to hold her own. Since Australian Cattle Dogs are bursting with energy, Shelby could keep up with any outdoor activity. Bonding with his family unit out in nature was a healing experience for Justin.
He Even Bought A Trailer
Justin loved camping outings so much that he even bought a massive trailer to better accommodate everyone. The luxurious camper featured a dining room table, a double sink, a large bed, and even a bathtub!
The family could now enjoy an extended camping trip with ease and could drive up whenever Justin felt the need to get away. It provided a wonderful escape when he needed to get his mind off the dark side of his job.
The Trip That Changed Everything
Justin decided to take his family to the Eastern Sierras in celebration of the 4th of July. The spot was six hours from their home-- close enough to get away but not too far of a drive.
When they arrived, they did their usual outdoor activities, but this time something was off. While Justin wasn't looking, Shelby had managed to get out of the trailer. By the time he noticed her absence, it was too late; Shelby was gone.
They Searched And Searched
Justin was understandably frantic over the loss of yet another dear friend. The EMT looked and looked for Shelby, refusing to give up. When night fell, he knew it wasn't safe to keep searching, so he went back to the campsite empty-handed.
He spent 13 days looking for Shelby on his own before he realized that this was too big a job to do alone. After all the people Justin had helped, it was time for him to be the one getting a helping hand.
They Contacted A Professional
After weeks without Shelby, Justin reached out to a nonprofit called A Way Home For Animals. He spoke directly with the founder, Babs Fry, who was deeply moved by Justin and Shelby's story.
Babs drove 10 hours to the campsite where Shelby had gone missing. She put out some traps in hopes she would attract the dog, but only ended up bringing bears to the area. Babs wasn't going to give up either, though.
Contacting People In The Area
If there's one thing Babs knew, it's the importance of asking people in the area if they've spotted a missing animal. She told The Dodo, "Through communicating with everyone in the area, signs, camp host, and general store we were able to make sure that anyone that saw the dog knew exactly who to call."
Miraculously, Babs got a call the day after she arrived on the campsite with information regarding Shelby. Someone had spotted the dog 3 and a half miles South!
A False Alarm
Babs immediately went to the location where Shelby had been spotted. This is where her expertise came in handy. She told The Dodo, "I immediately evaluated the area for probable food source, water source and safe place to be unseen so I could set the five traps I had available to me."
Despite Babs' thorough investigation and traps, Shelby still didn't appear. Days passed, and that's when Babs received another phone call from someone who spotted the dog!
The person who called said they had spotted Shelby looking for food. Babs raced to the area where the Australian Cattle Dog was seen and immediately set up a trap. Less than an hour later, Shelby wondered into the trap.
At last, Babs could reunite the dear dog with her loving owner. She called Justin right away, and he was overjoyed to hear that Babs was on her way with Shelby. After all, he'd been through, he finally got to get his best friend back.
Reunited And It Feels So Good
As soon as Babs pulled up to Justin's work, he raced out to embrace his dear dog. The two looked so adorable together that even Babs had tears in her eyes.
She told The Dodo, "No amount of words can express what it felt like to walk through that door and see this dog throw herself at her family and watch her family embrace her with love." It was clear that Shelby had missed Justin just as much as he missed her.
28 Days On Her Own In The Woods
Perhaps the most miraculous part of the story is that Shelby made it almost a month on her own in the woods. For a domesticated animal, that's quite a feat, especially considering the bears that roamed around the area.
The energetic dog looked healthy and happy as she leaped into Justin's arms. Both of them had smiles stretched from ear to ear. Even Babs called the story "an amazing one," and said that she's never seen a commitment level like Justin's.
Even The Vet Was Impressed
After all the weeks Shelby spent in the woods, Justin knew it was vital to take her to the vet ASAP. She had an eye infection that the vet prescribed medication for, and offered some flea and tick guard as a cautionary measure.
The vet also gave Justin a special flea and tick shampoo to use on the brave dog. Otherwise, Shelby looked great! Justin posted on Facebook that the vet, "is very impressed with [Shelby's] will to survive and how well she took care of herself."
Finally Going Home
Justin said that Shelby slept like a log in his bed the first night she returned. As marvelous as she did on her own, the precious animal was just as relieved as anyone to have safety and shelter again.
As for Justin, he was just counting his lucky stars that his dog had beat all the odds. Had he picked any other dog from the shelter, things may have turned out differently. It's like they were destined to be together.
Justin's Happy Son
Justin and Shelby weren't the only ones to be relieved. Justin's son was only five-years-old at the time that their dog went missing. After seeing his dad go through a rough time, and then losing Shelby, the young boy was happy that things were going to be okay.
Shelby was a sweetheart with Justin's young son and just as thrilled to see him as he was her. Now there was just one more thing to do.
Returning To The Sierras
After all they had been through, you might think Justin would be hesitant to return to the camping ground with Shelby. On the contrary, he jumped at the opportunity to recreate their 4th of July adventure.
Justin posted this photo on Facebook with the comment, "Her return trip is officially a success. She got to see everyone that was still there and sunbathe on the beach while Jackson fished." The family had a happy ending after all.