Dog’s Best Friend

Rescuing Riley, Saving Myself: A Man and His Dog’s Struggle to Find Salvation

Rescuing Riley, puppy rescued from a 350′ deep slot canyon

This is the video Zak Anderegg shot when he found and rescued an abandoned puppy in a slot canyon. This story is now described in the book, “Rescuing Riley, Saving Myself”.

While hiking on a solo vacation in a remote, uninhabitable region of Arizona, Zachary Anderegg happened upon Riley, an emaciated puppy clinging to life, at the bottom of a 350-foot canyon. In a daring act of humanity that trumped the deliberate savagery behind Riley’s presence in such a place, Zak single-handedly orchestrated a delicate rescue.

What didn’t come out in the initial burst of publicity this story received is that Zak and Riley’s destinies were intertwined long before they improbably found each other. For much of Zak’s childhood, he was at the bottom of a veritable canyon himself—a canyon whose imprisoning depth and darkness was created by bullies who just wouldn’t quit and parents who weren’t capable of love. From the age of five, Zak was everyone’s favorite target.

When Zak came upon Riley, the puppy’s condition bespoke his abusers’ handiwork—three shotgun pellets embedded beneath his skin, teeth turned permanently black from malnutrition. The meeting was one of a man and a dog singularly suited to save each other. As a former US Marine sergeant, Zak was one of only a few people with the mettle and physical wherewithal to get Riley out. And in rescuing him, Zak was also attempting to save himself, conquering the currents of cruelty that swelled beneath his early life and always threatened to drown him.


Please follow and like us:

Leave a Reply

Notify of

Friends, this happens more often than not. For me, it happened when I bought Dakota over the Internet from aPomeranian breeder at 100 Mile House, a remote village in Northern BC. Sold to me as a Pom, when he arrived it was clear he was not, although his striking good looks turns many a head when we are out. He also had many strange behaviour problems, as he was 2.5 yrs old and had a formed personality. Because I’d acquired PTSD via 5 or 6 rear-end car crashes, I was able to recognise my problems in him. It’s taken more… Read more »

Dr. Eowyn

Sometimes, only God’s creatures — those “Creatures Without Sin” — can reach deeply troubled humans. That’s why some prisons have their convicts work with and train dogs.


Ah, sweet story!

Lea Wiggins

I personally believe that everything in life happens for a reason. The events that shape us in childhood, affect what kind of adults we choose to become. I have found through my personal experiences that those of us who have suffered greatly, love greatly, as well. I am so glad Riley has Zachery and Zachery has Riley!


WONDERFUL story-I always love happy “middles”-I suspect the “end” is a long,long way off. I’m indescribably glad Riley was “given” to these people.


Tears. Traildust…this post has moved me immensely. Thank you so much. (All our treasured pets were/are cast-offs….too many stories to tell….and, we also raised a “cast-off” child, a foster child, victim of heroin-addicted felon-“parents.” We were NOT “signed up” to become foster parents…but an emergent situation presented itself through a youth group I led….) God speaks to us through many sources….sometimes it’s through our own convictions, sometimes it’s through others, and many times, God appeals to whom we are in our deepest sense of morality through a helpless, dependent being–perhaps a domestic animal, a child, the homeless vet….It is not… Read more »


Wow – definitely a weeper….Our beloved pets will be in heaven with us, if we make it. Thanks so much for making my day!