This Man Made A Life-Changing Discovery At The Bottom of A Canyon

Living for Adventure

For Zachary Anderegg, life was about the call to adventure. An avid hiker and mountain climber, he could often be found hiking in Arizona or the southern Utah slot canyons.

It was on one of these adventures, he made a discovery that would change the course of his life forever.

Exploring the Canyon

One of Zachary’s favorite things to do was explore the slot canyons of northern Arizona. 

It was June 20, 2010, and he was out alone hiking as usual. However, this day would be like no other.

Beautiful Morning

It was a beautiful morning, and Zachary had settled for an easier hike to start the day. 

The sun was bright, the sky was clear and the dry air made it the perfect day to go on an adventure!

Deeper into the Canyon

Zachary made his way through the slot canyon, descending deeper into its rocky depths. As the gap between the walls narrowed, he found himself in a dark space. 

However, there was enough light to make his way along the bottom of the gorge before descending even further.

Let There Be Light

As Zachary went deeper into the gorge, the walls opened up and sunlight poured into open space.

As he continued on, he came across a very neat opening. However, he decided to keep trekking on.  There was still so much more to see.

In the Pitch

As he reached a depth of 100 feet, Zachary realized he would need to rappel down the rest of the way. 

There was a steep incline, but it was still manageable. The only problem was it was pitch black below.

The Second Drop

There was a second drop of roughly 20-feet and Zachary used the boulders along the walls to secure his climbing gear and manage his safety. 

He finally was able to drop the bottom of the gorge safely and it was then he discovered something absolutely heartbreaking.

An Abandoned Dog

Roughly 350 feet below the canyon’s edge, there was a trapped dog. Zachary was shocked the dog had survived a fall into the canyon without any broken bones, but the only thing the poor pup seemed to be suffering from was malnutrition.

And based on the evidence surrounding the dog, he determined someone had abandoned the poor baby to die.

To the Rescue

Realizing he couldn’t leave the dog to die of starvation, Zachary left the canyon to grab food and water. 

Unfortunately, he wouldn’t be able to get the dog out of the canyon for a couple days when he could get his hands on better climbing gear.

Running Against Time

Knowing it was a race against time for the dog to live, the hiker knew he needed to move fast.

The sooner the dog made it to the vet, the better his chances for survival.


The only supplies Zachary could obtain was a cat carrier from the local animal shelter. 

The fire and police departments revealed they wouldn’t be able to help. Despite being on his own, Andrew was determined to save the dog.

Fragile Health

Upon closer examination, Zachary realized the dog worse off than he had originally thought.

Emaciated and clinging to his last threads of life, he needed to get to a vet immediately. Quickly, the hiker placed the sweet dog into the crate and hoisted it to the surface.

Horrific Abuse

Rushing the poor dog to the local animal hospital he would stay there for the next two days recovering. During this time it was discovered the sweet dog had been subjected to horrific abuse.

Shotgun pellets were found embedded in its side and his teeth had turned black from lack of nourishment. Who could do this to such an innocent baby?

Caring for the Puppy

While the dog was incredibly weak, he still had a passion for life. 

During his recovery, Zachary and his wife Michelle took care of the puppy as they searched for a forever home for him.

Too Weak to Stand

When the dog finally left the vet, he was still too weak to stand, but Zachary said he wagged his tail, happy to see his rescuer again.

While they knew it would be a long road to recovery, Zachary and his wife were happy to see signs the dog was finally on the mend.

Stronger Every Day

Thanks to a strong dose of love and care, the dog grew stronger daily. 

A bond soon formed between Zachary and his new friend and he went on to name him Shadow. Pretty soon, Shadow followed his rescuer everywhere.

Destiny Not Chance

Even though Shadow was meant to live with Zachary and his wife temporarily, they soon realized he had become a part of their family. 

Zachary soon believed his chance meeting with this dog had been destiny. It even inspired him to write a memoir. Soon, the local media would pick up his story which lead to TV appearances. It was inspiring to say the least.

Saving Himself

Zachary believes that Shadow, now named Riley had been put on a path to change his life for the better. 

Soon, the two of them began their own adventures together.

New Adventures

Now, Riley and his brother Kohi go on adventures with their Dad often. 

They love exploring the lakes and canyons of Utah and Arizona together.

Forever Family

Today, Riley is happy and healthy. There’s even a strong social media following on Facebook.

Zachary had this to say… “He has become a cherished member of our family. He is without a doubt one of the sweetest dogs I’ve ever known.”