Dogs are incredibly loyal animals: they’ll stay by their master’s side til the very end, and even after they’re gone they’ll remain loyal.

That’s the lesson of one heartbreaking recent story, in which a hiker was found dead — with his faithful dog still alive and watching over him.

Taos Search and Rescue announced last week that, on October 30, the body of a missing 71-year-old hiker named Rich Moore had been found.

Moore, from Pagosa Springs, Colorado, had been missing with his dog since August 19, when he attempted to summit the nearby Blackhead Peak, a peak in the San Juan Mountains with a 12500 ft elevation with a 3.15 mile hike to the summit.

TSAR member Delinda Vanne-Brightyn responded to the search, alongside a K9 named AkioYodasan.

“We searched from just under the peak-top and directly West, searching down the mountain toward where his car was located,” Vanne-Brightyn recalled. “Winds were directly from the West/Southwest. It was so steep, we were inserted in by a helicopter.”

The search team located and identified Moore’s body: “He was found 2.5 miles East of the mountain-top beneath where we were inserted,” Vanne-Brightyn said.

But the man wasn’t alone: his Jack Russell Terrier Finney, who had disappeared with him in August, was still alive — and remained by her deceased owner’s side

The discovery of Finney moved and stunned the rescue team, both that the dog managed to survive on his own for more than a month and that he remained so loyal to her owner.

“It just brings us all to tears the loyalty of that dog,” Vanne-Brightyn told CNN.

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She suspects that Finney survived on nearby water and caught small animals like field mice and chipmunks for food. According to the sheriff’s office, Finney was transported to a nearby veterinary hospital for examination and treatment, before being reunited with her family. Despite the weeks-long ordeal, she was still in relatively good health.

Moore’s cause of death is unknown, though foul play is not suspected. Vanne-Brightyn said that it was a bright and sunny day when the hiker disappeared but the summit was described as “extremely rigorous.”

The hiker’s death is heartbreaking, but the story has still moved many people who are amazed by Finney’s loyalty. Experts say that it is not uncommon for dogs to show this kind of loyalty even after their owner has died.

“They become loyal to the death a lot of times,” dog behaviorist Russell Hartstein told CNN.

It’s a heartbreaking story, and our hearts go out to Rich Moore’s family. We can take solace in the fact that his loyal dog stayed by his side even after death, and that the dog has been returned to the deceased’s family.

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