On the last day of our south bound adventure (back into Atkins, VA), shocker, it's raining. As we approached a lunch time shelter where we planned to get under cover for a few minutes to have a quick bite to eat I was stopped dead in my tracks by the sight of what appeared to be a wolf laying in the shelter. I shit you not, from 75 yards away I was convinced that we had rolled up on a wild grey wolf. Knowing that wolves are extremely uncommon in this part of the US, my better judgement led us to investigate the animal. As it turns out, the creature was a 100+ pound husky. Assuming that the animal had not climbed 3000 feet into the mountains on its own, we began calling out for whoever the animal might belong to. No answer. It was clear that there was no hiker accompanying this dog. Being that the dog was alone, we were apprehensive about checking his collar for tags. Luckily he was friendly and we were able to learn that his name was Abu and his home was in Catawba, VA. We had also learned by checking him over that he was an older animal and that he was injured. Slashes on his legs and back led us to believe that he had been struck by a car or attacked by another animal. He was in a lot of pain. He could barely stand on his own and when he did he would drag his back legs as though they didn't work. It was a sad sight. Being that our phones didn't work at this altitude we were unable to contact the wardens service or the dogs owner. We were faced with either leaving the dog, hiking the dog out to the nearest road where hopefully we would have service and even dispatching the animal was on the table (he was in bad shape, had it been farther to the road I don't believe he would have made it and this would have been a serious consideration).
Seeing as it was 2 miles to the road, we decided to fashion a leash from paracord and slowly walk Abu out. He was a mess. At one point it only made sense for us to pick his giant body up and carry him down the steep declines. Arriving at the road, to no avail, we still didn't have service. We settled on tying Abu up underneath the deck of a nearby fishing camp with some water and taking down the location information so we could relay the dogs whereabouts to the appropriate parties once we did have cell service.
Finally the next ridge provided us with the phone access we needed and we were able to contact the dogs owner. He told us that the dog had been missing for about 3 days and had been in perfect health when he left. The owner made no mention of any leg injuries and said that generally the 8 year old husky is spry as a puppy. He also told us that he lives 3 towns over from where we found ABu and that the dog must have walked 20 plus miles to get into the mountains. We were happy to have done the animal a service. We were disappointed that no other hikers had made an effort to find the animal his owner seeing that he had definitely been hanging out in that shelter long before we arrived.