‘Very loving, caring dog’ travels four miles to save Oregon owner after car crash


After a car crash landed 61-year-old Brandon Garrett and his four dogs at the bottom of an 85-foot-ravine in eastern Oregon last Sunday, Garrett found an unexpected hero in his dog Blue.

Blue, a whippet and pit bull mix, traveled four miles to find help — and then captured the hearts of people in Baker County and beyond.

“Somebody get that dog a bone,” one of Blue’s admirers wrote on Facebook last week, “he saved his person.”

Garrett, of Halfway, Oregon, had been headed out on a camping trip with his friend Troy Millhollin on June 2 when the crash happened.

Around 3:15 p.m, Millhollin — who was waiting for Garrett to arrive at their campsite in the Hells Canyon National Recreation Area near the Idaho border — spotted Garrett’s dog Blue.

He didn’t think much of the dog’s solo arrival at first — he said that the dog sometimes traveled up to 29 miles on its own — and he didn’t think much of the cuts on Blue’s face, which he thought were only scratches.

But when Garrett still didn’t show up an hour and a half later, he realized that the scratches on Blue’s face were in fact cuts from broken glass.

It was then that he knew something was wrong, he said.

Four miles away, Garrett, three of his other dogs and the truck that he had been driving were lying below U.S. Forest Service Road 39. Blue had climbed out of the steep ravine and — without Garrett’s realizing it — run the four miles to the campground where Millhollin was waiting.

As nightfall neared, Millhollin said he went back to town to see if anyone had seen Garrett, but he began to fear the worst.

“It started getting dark and nobody had heard from him, and that’s when I was like ‘something isn’t right,’” Millhollin said.

Millhollin and a couple of friends searched the road all night to see where Garrett may have crashed, but couldn’t find him until Garrett’s brother Tyree Garrett spotted the truck he was driving at the bottom of the ravine around 9 a.m.

“I thought he was dead,” Tyree Garrett said. “I thought he was gone because it was so far down.”

But Brandon Garrett wasn’t dead. The crash had knocked him and two of the dogs out of the truck, and the vehicle landed only a few feet from crushing Garrett. When Baker County Sheriff Travis Ash found him, the 61-year-old had managed to crawl about 100 yards from the truck.

Ash called the Baker County Search and Rescue Team, as well as the Pine Valley Rural Fire Protection District.

Working together, the two teams — many of them volunteers — used a highline rope system to lift Garrett up onto the road and, eventually, to a waiting helicopter. Ash said that although one of the team members was trained in highline rope rescues, their team had never practiced performing one as a group, let alone done one in real life.

Still, he said, everything went smoothly “given the situation we had,” Ash said. “The teamwork really paid off.”

Brandon Garrett, who suffered a broken foot, bruises across his body and a cut on his head, was discharged from the hospital last Tuesday, said Millhollin. His two dogs that were injured have received veterinary care and are recovering well, he added. Brandon Garrett wasn’t available for an interview this week because he was still resting after his ordeal.

Blue is still enjoying long walks, Millhollin said, and Tyree Garrett remains impressed that Blue was able to find help to save his owner.

“It’s just a very loving, caring dog,” he said. “I was amazed that he figured out how to get back to (the camp) instead of coming to town or something.”

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