For more than a month, countless animal lovers across Colorado’s Western Slope were gripped by the same question: Where is Mia?
But you’d never know it from the rescue dog’s calm demeanor now, flopped on the couch next to her owner, Charles Reigies, and his girlfriend, Hanna Poscente. Mia’s shy and quiet, with short, white fur, brown spots and floppy ears — and a story the couple will never fully know.
“She’s still got a lot of weight to put back on,” said Reigies, patting Mia, her ribs showing, “but the vet says she's doing good, all things considered.”
Mia’s saga began the day after Christmas, when she and the couple were driving back home to Grand Junction from Denver on I-70. It was one of the first storms of the season. Reigies hit a patch of black ice, and they went swerving.
“And the time I came to, she was hurt and the dog was gone, and the Jeep was on its side,” he said.
When they crashed, it was nighttime, and they weren’t close to anything, about 7 miles outside of the small town of Gypsum. An ambulance rushed Poscente to a hospital with a broken neck. As Reigies waited for a tow truck, he kept searching for Mia in the snow. But there were no signs of her.
The next day, Poscente, now home, reactivated her Facebook account just to post about Mia. To look for help. She joined groups dedicated to lost and found pets across the region. Days passed. The posts were liked and shared, and the search continued with the help of strangers, who also left food out for Mia.
“They were like their own little village looking for Mia, a dog they had never met before,” Poscente said.
And if that village had a mayor, it would be Janet Cross, who lives about 20 minutes from the crash site. She had heard that pets will keep returning to where they’ve lost their people. So, 10 days after the crash, she set up a trail camera at the site.
She could see that Mia was coming back twice a day.
“She's looking at the spot. She's looking for her family. She's looking skinny,” Cross said. “It’s cold. It’s freezing out.”
She found the images heartbreaking, but also hopeful. Mia was alive.
There were so many more sightings — by Cross and others. There were near misses, too. One of the days when the couple came back to the crash site, they left at 5 that afternoon. The camera recorded Mia at 7.
“You could tell she was like, ‘Wait, I smell them,’” Poscente said, smiling.
The fact they live two hours away from their crash site just made everything harder. Reigies, who found Mia at the Rifle Animal Shelter in 2018, kept grieving her over and over.
“Just any day we came back empty handed, it was terrible,” he said.
Meanwhile, Mia’s story was still being shared continually on Facebook. And Cross had received a trap from animal control — which the agency required her to check every hour. So she did that, parking at a nearby gas station between checks.
Finding Mia basically became her full-time job.
“But I just couldn't give up,” Cross said. “I just couldn't give up on her.”
Then things got more dire. A deer fence the car crash had destroyed was rebuilt, and many of Mia’s online followers worried she was trapped behind it. There were no Mia sightings for eight days.
Finally, Poscente received a fateful call from a woman.
“I'm looking at your dog,” she remembers her saying.
The woman was calling from Gypsum, about 10 miles from where the couple had crashed. Cross put out the trap again, and a friend drove Poscente, still in a neck brace, to the area.
That first night, Mia got scared off. But they stayed at a nearby hotel, and the next morning, Poscente decided to try one more time. Her friend left to take a meeting by phone, and Poscente started walking down the train tracks as snow fell. She looked up and to her left, and there Mia was, completely camouflaged in the snow and sagebrush.
Mia didn’t get scared. She didn’t run off. She yawned and started walking toward Poscente, who filmed the moment with her cell phone.
“Hi, baby, hi!” Poscente says in the video, her voice hoarse with emotion, as Mia ambles closer. “Oh my God.”
Then the video cuts off, because Mia started jumping all over her. When they got home, Mia knocked Reigies off his feet, as he melted into tears.
When Cross heard the news about Mia, couldn’t believe it.
“She fought traffic and predators and snow and wind,” Cross said, “and I mean, she made it.”
She had been gone for one month and one day. Mia’s story keeps getting shared on Facebook, often with the words “Never give up hope.”
Editor's Note: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated Janet Cross' last name. We regret the error.
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