Two Stray Dogs Saved by Runners in the Middle of the Desert

This is why I love athletes! Here’s the story of two dogs, both now named Cuba.

This last week we were at an extreme running event in Cuba, NM. Many of the participants had camped out the night before because of the early start time. A young dog about 8 months old was roaming around the campsite and no one could quite tell if it belonged to a camper or if it was lost.

A second little pup was across the way alone in the desert peeking out at the calamity across the street. The group of runners/campers knew that the dogs were VERY, VERY hungry.

One runner went to the emaciated pup in the desert. The little dog was skin and bones, very dirty, and had part of its tail bitten off. Skittish and shy, the little pup was successfully lured out of the desert with food.


The larger dog looked more well fed but had no social skills at all. After we talked to the Park Patrol they let us know that that dogs had been around for days. They were strays and the Patrol just couldn’t catch the little pup because he was hiding in the desert and the huskier dog was like a shadow. You just never saw it.


The next morning the older dog was at the start line bright and early with his tail wagging. During the night the dog had decided who his owner should be, and when he went to the start line the dog did not want to lose sight of him so he just followed him on the run.


The dog ran with that runner for NINE miles until the next aid station!


The runner parked the dog with the volunteer team to keep it safe and make sure it had water until the runner could finish his race (that’s where I took these pics).



Apparently the dog knew where it should go because when they came back for him he was ready to get in the car. When I asked what they were going to name the dog they informed me that they were going to call it Cuba (Cuba1) in honor of the town that made them friends. 

When I got back to camp at the end of the race I saw that the runner who had picked up the little pup was also in the process of nursing him back to health, and that he was also going to adopt the pup. That young man had lost his own dog just a few months earlier, and this little pup looked very similar to the one that had passed. On the dog there are two white spots on either side of the shoulder blade which are called Angel Wings.

When the young runner saw that the pup had the angel wings he said “It was a sign, as soon as I saw that dog in the desert I knew he was supposed to come home with me.” He decided to continue the dog theme and named the pup Cuba (Cuba2) also.  He had even gone out to buy a dog the week before and it was sold. The pup was tired and not used to people picking him up and holding him.


I am a dog parent and I LOVE happy stories. These folks were called to become the care givers to two very special dogs. No one goes to a sporting event in the middle of the desert with the intention to find a dog. But these two pups now have a very fine homes and are getting along well.

I want to say “Thank You” to those runners who went out of their way to become dog parents as well as race finishers all in one day. It is an honor to watch good things unfold.

Cuba1 has been reported to be just following his new owner around the house. Cuba2, the little pup is also right at home with his new owner and getting LOTS of hugs.

Feel free to share this story with your runner friends and with dog parents alike.

Trail well.