When Lise Madson found the splotch of blood beside the road she figured it was futile to keep searching.
Her dog must be dead.
Less than an hour later the dog in question, a 20-pound Shetland sheepdog named Honey who had gone missing for six days, was not only very much alive, she was safely ensconced in Madson’s arms.
And happy to stay there — at least until a bowl of food was made available.
“She was extremely hungry,” Madson said.
But otherwise the diminutive dog, which stands 14 inches at the shoulder, was in good condition despite having spent almost a week — and the snowiest week of the winter — roaming a rural part of Baker County.
Madson said veterinarian Brett Hamilton examined Honey Thursday afternoon and said the dog had a fever but was otherwise healthy.
A day that ended up with a joyful reunion started much differently.
Madson said a volunte er searcher found small canine tracks, a patch of blood and a chunk of flesh Thursday morning beside a road not far from where Honey had been seen in the Sparta area about 25 miles east of Baker City.
“When we found the blood I had just about given up hope,” Madson said. “I cried.”
A neighbor reported seeing wolves in the area two days earlier, and Madson envisioned her dog falling prey to the predators.
Not long after, and about three-quarters of a mile from the tracks and the blood, Madson, who was driving along East Eagle Creek Road about a mile and a half north of Sparta Road, suddenly saw a dog sitting beneath a roadside pine.
It was Honey.
Fortunately a neighbor happened to be driving the opposite direction on the road, so Honey was between the two vehicles.
The neighbor was able to pick up the dog, which had in previous days fled from potential rescuers, including Madson.
“She cuddled up in a blanket and didn’t look like she wanted to go anywhere,” Madson said.
She had bought Honey during a dog show in Portland in January.
The dog had been living with her for less than a week when Honey climbed a stack of lawn furniture and leaped from the deck at Madson’s home.
Madson said she was overwhelmed by the generosity of her neighbors and other residents, who donated their time to help search for Honey. Others lent snowshoes and used drones to search for the dog.
“Everybody has been absolutely wonderfully supportive,” Madson said Thursday. “It’s an incredible community.”