Mo loved camping trips, and she always joined her humans when they reconnected with nature. But one day, when Darwin Cameron left to make some repairs, he returned to find Mo gone. Even after weeks of searching she was nowhere to be found, and winter was closing in.
The couple in question are Cindy Cameron and her husband Darwin, who live in Boise, Idaho. Although Darwin is a parole and probation officer by trade, both he and his wife love the outdoors. It’s a passion shared by Mo, their Chesapeake Bay Retriever.
In her younger days, Mo would perhaps have taken the family trips as an opportunity to hunt in the wild. People bred Chesapeake Bay Retrievers – or Chessies – as hunting dogs, after all. But after spending 12 years in the loving embrace of the Cameron family, Mo was a senior.
As a result, the Chessie spent her golden year outings resting in the Cameron’s hamper with her humans. That’s exactly what Mo was doing when she went away with Darwin to rural Idaho in September 2016. And that’s when everything went wrong.
The metaphorical downhill slide began when the Cameron’s waterline encountered problems. Consequently, Darwin left Mo in the camper while he went to get some repair tools. When he got back, his furbaby had seemingly escaped the vehicle to look for him and disappeared.
Darwin couldn’t find the Chessie anywhere, but he refused to leave until he’d done everything he could. With that in mind, he and his wife temporarily moved nearby while they looked for Mo. Their search lasted for three months, and turned up nothing.
Meanwhile, Mo’s mystery spread across social media, so more people than ever were looking for her. Yet as winter approached, the chances of finding a senior dog alive in the wild looked less likely. A local dog rescuer, Cheri Glankler from Garden Valley, Idaho, confirmed as such.
Glankler revealed to the Miami Herald in July 2017 that the odds were stacked against Mo’s survival. She said even a hunting dog in the peak of health would struggle in such harsh conditions. They would be even more unforgiving for a senior retriever.
Even so, the Camerons didn’t give up hope; at least, not at first. It even looked as if their optimism would be rewarded several times, when eyewitnesses reported possible sightings of Mo. A hunter even claimed they’d seen a dog in the wilds of Boise County’s Jerusalem Valley.
Apparently, the hunter recounted how they’d seen a dog of Mo’s color darting away from a wolf pack. The constant disappointments were slowly taking their toll on the Camerons. Thus, they weren’t overly hopeful when they got a call about a dog Glankler rescued in late June 2017.
A good Samaritan found the poor creature near Horseshoe Bend, close to Idaho 55. The parasite-infested, malnourished dog reached a ranch before falling to the ground. An unidentified animal lover subsequently rushed it to Glankler’s capable hands, where she began nursing it back to health.
Glankler noticed that the dog matched Mo’s description, but she didn’t want to assume. Instead, she made a Facebook post announcing the find, and asking potential owners to come forward. However, Glankler was pretty sure the dog was Mo.
In addition to the physical resemblance, the stray also had hearing difficulties, just like Mo. It was another thing that cemented Glankler’s belief her stray was the missing dog. The deciding factor was a shared enthusiasm both Mo and Glankler’s ward had for squirrels.
Even though the retriever’s ordeal debilitated her, she still couldn’t stop herself chasing squirrels. When Glankler asked Darwin Cameron’s brother how Mo was with furry rodents, he simply said, “Game on.” With that, they convinced the Camerons to visit Glankler.
Glankler told the Miami Herald, “I knew right away. She went to Cindy and pushed her head into Cindy’s belly. Cindy was looking her over and looking for all the signs that this is Mo. A stitch in her right eye, her fatty tumor.”
Then the dog walked over and sat on Darwin’s foot, “which is exactly what Mo does,” Glankler said. And when the couple brought out Mo’s blanket, it quashed any doubts the Camerons had about the reunion. Glankler noticed how Mo sniffed it, and said, “I think you have your girl back.”
After Mo’s trip home, her familiarity with the house’s layout confirmed her identity. But what happened to the poor pooch while she was away? Perhaps we’ll never know, but Glankler believes the Retriever spent all that time surviving alone in the wild.
“The way she looked, there’s no way someone was taking care of her,” Glankler said. As a result, Mo suffered for some time after her ordeal. She was still in what the animal rescuer described as “survival mode.” She also seemed to suffer from a form of post-traumatic stress.
Mo exhibited panic attacks time after her return, and hid under a desk during those trying times. Furthermore, she was terrified of the camper she once loved. The good news is she’s getting better. “As each week goes by, she’s more and more her old self,” Darwin Cameron reported on Facebook in October 2017.
Henceforth, Cameron gave the indomitable Mo a nickname: “The Legend.” And Glenklar was so inspired by her that she even named a rescue group – Legends of the Paws Animal Rescue – after the dog. “Who saved Mo? Mo saved Mo,” Glankler told the Idaho Statesmen in July 2017. And now her namesake is saving other dogs, too.