Hound reunited with owner after epic journey

........................................................................................................................................................................................

Ox the hound traveled at least 20 rugged, dangerous miles in 10 days — successfully crossing a desert wilderness and Interstate 25 — before showing up at Trish and Woody Peabody's farm on Olive Lane in Lemitar on April Friday.

The skinny, scraggly hound arrived at the Peabody gate at 8:30 in the morning, and wouldn't take no for an answer.

"He was determined to stick around, was very friendly and didn't mind the other dogs," Trish said. "We brought him inside the gate. He had two really nice collars with brass information tags on him with phone numbers."

When they called the number, Ox's owner, Magdalena hunting guide Doc Rolston, said he had last seen the dog 10 days ago southwest of the Ladron Mountains, about 18 miles from the Peabody's as the crow flies.

"We were hunting mountain lions west of my father-in-law Ross Ligon's ranch on the west side of the Ladrones," Rolston said. "Ox hit a lion track. Evidently we hit two tracks. He didn't stay with the other dogs."

Ox followed one set of tracks into the Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge, while the other dogs followed a female mountain lion's tracks away from the refuge.

"We couldn't get this guy to come out," Rolston said. "On the refuge, you can't go after them."

He put out some dog food and laid his jacket on the ground where he had last had contact with Ox, and hoped the hound would return in the morning.

Unlike other times Ox had gone missing, he didn't return.

"I just waited for him to come back out, but he never did," Rolston said. "I thought I'd lost him."

The stalwart hound seems healthy, although the worse for wear because of lack of food and his encounter with the lion.

"He's skinny, being 10 days without a real meal, and he got into it with that cat," he said. "He's got some good fang marks where the cat got a hold of him."

Even so, Rolston thinks Ox will pull through.

"He came running right up to me; well, he trotted up. He's bright eyed, and his nose is good," he said. "I'm going to take him home and nurse him. He's a lucky dog being out by himself."