The ‘incredible journey’ of Hudson; missing ‘miracle dog’ found

WASHINGTON COUNTY – A week-long search for Hudson Raine, a 2-year-old German shepherd dog who went missing near Leeds, Utah, on Aug. 17, drew massive support from locals and culminated in a fortunate ending for all.

Dubbed “Huddie” by his rescuers, Hudson’s long journey began in an overcrowded animal shelter in Los Angeles, Calif., where he landed after being picked up as a stray. Just days before his scheduled euthanization, Steve Wenzel of Bozeman, Mont., learned about Huddie’s plight through a friend; immediately smitten by the dog’s photo, he contacted the shelter. Hudson was then placed in the home of Susan Fisher, a foster owner, and spent the next month recovering from the abuse and malnourishment he had suffered while wandering the streets. On Aug. 17, Wenzel traveled to Barstow, Calif., to pick him up.

Nearly halfway through the 1,000-mile drive home, Wenzel pulled into the Red Cliffs Recreation Area just outside Leeds, where he intended to spend the night. He slipped a collar and leash onto Hudson, no easy task given his apprehension from past restraining and beatings. Wenzel turned away momentarily while busy readying a small campsite — just long enough for the dog to chew through the inadequate leash and run for freedom.

After a short, panicked search, Wenzel called his wife, Susan Smiley-Wenzel, to report the bad news. At home in Bozeman, she turned to Facebook to ask for prayers and support.

Hudson, the German shepherd, with the people who found him after he was lost en route to his rescuers’ home in Montana. Leeds, Utah, Aug. 24, 2012 | Courtesy of Susan Smiley-Wenzel
“(We were) heartbroken and devastated,” she said.

Help came in the form of the Homeless Animal Rescue Team of Utah. Over a dozen HART members and concerned citizens met Wenzel at Red Cliffs the next morning to scour the area; and in the days following, Hudson’s face appeared on local television stations and countless posters. The search team notified police and park rangers, set up a tip line, arranged a reward and drove nonstop in hopes of spotting the runaway. On Aug. 20, a family friend of the Wenzels even hired a helicopter to fly over Dixie in search of Huddie.

The massive rescue effort, which prompted people as far away as Nebraska and Mississippi to get involved, continued for seven agonizing days; Wenzel was forced to return to Bozeman due to professional obligations. Hudson was sighted several times in the Leeds area and even running along Intrstate 15 but remained elusive, which Smiley-Wenzel attributed to the survival skills he adopted while living as a stray.

“He was scared of men and afraid to be caught and beaten or God knows what else had been done to him,” Smiley-Wenzel said.

In the evening of Aug. 24, Sandra Woodring Adams, who was helping with the rescue effort, received word that a family in Leeds had Hudson in their sights but was unsure of what to do next. By the time she and other volunteers arrived, he had bolted again. Frustrated, Adams started walking south, hunting through backyards.

Mere minutes later, she stumbled onto the incredible sight of the dog standing on the sidewalk with a teenage girl holding the remainder of his leash. The search team arrived soon after and loaded Hudson, emaciated and shaking with fright, into a truck. Then Adams made the jubilant calls to the Wenzels and Fisher, who broke into relieved tears, she said.

An exhausted and emaciated Hudson arrives at the vet, Washington City, Utah, Aug. 24, 2012 | Courtesy of Sandra Woodring Adams

Hudson was admitted to the Washington Family Veterinary Clinic that night, where he remains while receiving treatment for dehydration, malnourishment and the effects of ingesting contaminated food and water during his ordeal; Adams said he is reportedly being a good boy. Once he has recovered, the Wenzels will return to St. George and finally take him to his new and last home. A donation site entitled We Love Hudsonhas been set up to assist him with his medical bills and other expenses.

Smiley-Wenzel said that while Hudson’s rescue was truly a miracle, it could not have happened without the selfless and unfailing support of the search team.

“We’re overwhelmed by the efforts of this community to come forward and help us find Hudson,” she said. “We are eternally grateful.”

“Catching this dog truly took a village (but) at the end of the day, it was a wonderful and special 17-year-old girl (whom) Huddie trusted to bring him in,” Adams said. “I hope to work with all of these great people again, but under better circumstances.”

Hudson the German shepherd at his foster home, Los Angeles, Calif., July 2012 | Courtesy of Susan Smiley-Wenzel


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Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2012, all rights reserved.

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  • Murat August 27, 2012 at 12:53 pm

    I enjoy eating dogs on a regular basis, usually when I visit the Reservation. It is a wonder to me how people get so worked up over these silly creatures.

  • MisterMister August 27, 2012 at 1:30 pm

    Murat also enjoys long walks on the beach after dining of cats and fried squirrels. His favorite dish is raw goat, which he dines upon frequently under a bridge in an undisclosed location.

    • Murat August 27, 2012 at 1:42 pm

      A bridge between my pool and entertainment pad, indeed. The sun can be brutal. I’m no fool and you can always find me chilling in the shade with scrumptious eats.

    • Murat August 27, 2012 at 1:48 pm

      Moreover, it is only on rare and special occasions when I will consume raw meat. In addition, if I am near a beach, I will not be dining on squirrels and cats, cuisine which is more appropriate for urban survival situations. Near an ocean body, I will consume (preferably) sea turtles. My favorite dish is not raw goat. I would be happy to discuss what my favorite dish truly is if you ever gain my trust. I may reveal it anyway at some point.

  • San August 27, 2012 at 1:50 pm

    MisterMister…I think I love you now.

    Huddie will come back here tomorrow and is expected to leave for home this weekend. He’s received (still to be picked up) a ‘thunder jacket’ from the amazing staff at Pet-Co, who pooled their finances to purchase it. J.C. Schilling, of Because Animals Matter and Robyn Gifford (a family friend of the Wenzel’s) have also combined resources to purchase a GPS collar. If Cathy Freitas, Kim Bean (both of HART), JC Schilling, Melinda Wright (Paw-To-Purrfect Pet Sitting, Scott Adams (and Clara Belle) and a few other die-hards hadn’t come together, this dog would have been dead by Saturday night. Not on our watch! 🙂

    Thank you, thank you, thank you……

  • Canadian Guy August 27, 2012 at 9:11 pm

    All that for a lost dog, but no one seems to care that if it
    hadn’t been for this family, he would have been puit to sleep like
    100 other Hudson’s were since I started reading this article.
    We have a no-kill policy up here in my province. Maybe you guys
    should look into it.

  • Scout August 28, 2012 at 12:18 am

    It’s wonderful to see so many people helping this poor innocent dog…it restores my faith in humanity.

  • San August 28, 2012 at 5:06 am

    CG….Hmmmmm….Why so grim? People do care, that’s the point. I think if you looked at our fb pages you’d see a list of dogs that were pulled out of kill shelters (across the country and transported here/there) by the same group of people. Like the rest of the world’s issues it has to start close to home. You articulated the problem well, I hope you can volunteer your time to foster/trap/transport/bath/whatever shelter and feral animals. Thanks for the good wishes. 🙂

  • Fred August 28, 2012 at 5:12 am

    Great heartwarming story.

    Murat I am sure you are joking or you might be from Korea where they do eat dogs. Such savages.

    • Kelli August 28, 2012 at 9:17 am

      Yeah, none of the posts you see under that name are serious. He passes the time each day at the public library posting fictional anecdotes b/c it’s all that the poor guy has in his life right now. His room over at the Cliff Inn was recently damaged by fire and he was displaced, so we try not to make fun of his comments b/c that would just be kicking a guy when he’s down!

  • Fred August 28, 2012 at 5:13 am

    Great news. I love German Shepherds. They are very faithful and loving.

    • Kelli August 28, 2012 at 9:01 am

      Me too, Fred! My favorite line in the whole story is “Adams said he is reportedly being a good boy.” Haha – Glad you made it home, Huddie 🙂

  • San August 28, 2012 at 6:14 pm

    There are two other shepherds in the area;

    1- adult female in a local shelter…sorry I can’t remember which one but go on petfinders to see
    this dog is at risk of euthanasia
    1 – 6mo female shepherd puppy, said to beautiful and very sweet, at the La Verkin Shelter. 703-5401

    • Kelli August 29, 2012 at 8:40 am

      Good to know, San. Thank you!

  • San September 2, 2012 at 8:10 pm

    Over this past weekend, Hudson was reunited with his Montana based family. They drove to So. Utah just to get him, were here less than 24 hours and returned home. Other than a residual ear infection and low weight he seems to be doing well. A celebration was held at Washington City Dog Park, for Huddies family to meet all his rescue volunteers. When people see a stray dog it’s not always convenient to pause and hel… but this series of events expresses the importance of seeing what’s in front of you and doing what you can. Have a great life Hudson!!

  • San May 12, 2013 at 1:40 pm

    Update; It’s been nearly a year, but when telling a friend the story I looked this back up…

    The family who originally adopted Hudson, from Montana, has kept in touch over the past year. In fact, they’ve become good family friends. Funny what unites people. We’re permanently bonded now, as a result of this scrappy shepherd.

    Hudson/Huddie is doing better than we ever had hoped. He’s much loved and very happy. As predicted, he has continued to grow and now stands higher than his new large-framed male GSD buddy. He was pretty feral when he arrived, and really tested his adoptive family, but they have stuck with him and done the work. After much training and some doggie therapy he can finally be trusted to walk off lead, go for car rides, and greet visitors. He loves his new human mom and has made peace/friends with his human dad.

    In the world of kill-shelter dogs, Hudson won the lottery. 🙂

    —Sandra Adams

  • Fred Also May 13, 2013 at 6:03 am

    Murat is a joker, but does he eat dog? From Korea?

    Seriously this story is very happy. I love German Shepherds. I have had 3 in the past 40 years. Very faithful and smart, easy to train.

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