Alma’s angels help find dog lost for years

Dog rescued from hoarding situation is adopted into loving home, but then gets lost while hiking, but is found nearly five years later.
By Christelle L. Del Prete

The people who first came across the stray dog in the Nevada desert probably didn’t know people were desperately searching for her. They couldn’t have known that Best Friends had saved her from a hoarding case just a few years earlier, and then she’d been adopted into a new home where she had been happily living until disaster struck.

They didn’t know the golden-colored dog had a name — Alma. But what they did do saved her life and eventually led her back home to her adopter, who never stopped believing she was out there somewhere.

Alma the dog got lost in the Nevada desert

Adopting a shy dog

It was 2010 when Alma was brought to Best Friends after her rescue. She was shy and easily frightened, but that didn’t stop Darla Foley from falling in love with her.

Darla had experience with shy dogs, since she’d adopted Sequoya, another shy dog from the same hoarding case. Seven months after Alma came to Best Friends, she went home to Las Vegas with Darla and Sequoya. The dogs got along great and were happy in their new home. Darla was thrilled and would often take the dogs hiking on nearby trails.

But in February 2012, disaster struck. While Darla and the dogs were out hiking, an all-terrain vehicle zoomed by. It was too close and too much for Alma, who bolted in fright.

Alma the dog had been adopted into a new home where she had been happily living until disaster struck

Searching for a lost dog

The search for Alma stretched from hours into days, and then months and years. During those years, the anguish Darla felt was indescribable. After losing Alma in February 2012, she spent countless weekends with Sequoya, making the same hiking trek along the base of the mountain where she last saw Alma — but with no luck.

She posted flyers. Best Friends got involved by networking with local sources and emailing flyers to members in the area.

Darla says, “I went to where I thought Alma might be and left bedding, food and her toys, hoping that she would pick up the scent and come back. But she didn't return.”

Eventually, Darla assumed her dog had either traveled over to the other side of the mountain, or someone had found her and didn't report it.

As years passed with no luck finding Alma. Darla’s hope shifted. “I hoped that a family had picked her up,” she says. The best she could hope for was that Alma had found safety with another family. And in a way, she had.

Alma the dog found safety with another "family"

Getting by with a little help from friends

Though years went by without any signs of finding Alma, the dog was, in fact, close by the spot where she was lost. Though she was surviving despite the extreme desert heat and cold, she wasn’t getting by alone.

In the beginning, Alma likely received a helping hand from people living in a local homeless camp. By 2015, construction crews had moved into the area and, though they changed from one company to another, one thing stayed the same. The workers looked out for Alma.

The job of leaving food out for her was a torch that got passed on, whenever one crew left and another took over.

Alma the dog being fed at the construction site

Catching a stray dog

In August of 2016, Jared Koedyker picked up that torch. “I took over feeding her after one contractor left the duties to me,” he says.

“She came to the same spot every morning and did laps around my truck when she saw me. After days of feeding her she still wouldn't allow me to get close to her. And I tried to trap her, but was unsuccessful.”

Another crew working in the area noticed Jared’s efforts and decided to help. They managed to corral the skittish dog and get a rope around her chest.

Alma the dog with JaredThey kept her there until Jared arrived a short time later. He had built a relationship with Alma and she trusted him enough to let him finally bring her to safety.

What to do after rescuing a stray animal

When finally they had her, Jared brought Alma to the Nevada SPCA, where she was scanned for a microchip. That microchip was traced back to Best Friends, where Alma’s case was well-known.  

When the message got to Dogtown at Best Friends, everyone who knew Alma was both surprised and excited that not only had she been found, but that she was OK after so much time had passed.

Soon, the staff reached out to Darla, who had no idea how close she was to seeing Alma again.

A huge surprise

A few years after Alma disappeared, Darla had to relocate from Las Vegas to Carson City for her job — a distance of more than 400 miles. She was at work when she got the email saying that Alma had been found.

Darla says, “I was very, very surprised. The email gave me the number to the Nevada SPCA. I didn't know whether I should leave work and make the drive immediately, or if the shelter would put a hold on her.”

Darla called a friend in Las Vegas, who picked up Alma and gave Darla the details from the shelter. She was able to phone Jared, who sent photos and videos he’d taken of Alma in the desert.

“I am still so amazed, not only by Alma's perseverance, but by the kindness of so many people who cared about her well-being without ever expecting anything in return,” she says.

Soon, Alma was on her way to Carson City for a reunion with Darla, who was overjoyed to see her after nearly five years. No more desert living for her.

Happy at home

Jared says he and the guys on the construction crews are just happy Alma is home. “I feel great about it,” he says. “It really is the best case scenario, the best ending to the story. It's wonderful that Alma is home and I couldn't be happier.”

It was really a team effort of all the people in the area, says Jared. “We all felt for her because we knew that the summers were so hot and the winters could get really cold. Everyone knew that she had to be hungry and struggling out in the wild by herself, and people wanted to help. People called her Solo out here. We all knew that a better life awaited her someday, if we could only catch her.”

As for Alma, she not only survived her ordeal, but also managed to stay amazingly healthy, thanks to her angels.

Though she probably expected to live for the rest of her life out in the rocky desert by relying on the kindness of strangers, she’s settled in again with Darla and her two canine sisters, Sequoya and Willow. She’s getting used to the pine trees and rivers in her new home in Carson City.

Alma the dog reunited with Darla

Thanks to the kindness of strangers, Alma got the best gift she ever could have hoped for. She’s home.

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Photos courtesy of Darla Foley and Jared Koedyker

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