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Marine Soldier Rescued A Dog Who Eventually Saved Him As Well

Susie Steck

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Zachary Anderegg went hiking on a solo vacation in a remote, uninhabitable region of Arizona. He had been climbing for two hours when he saw a black creature walking in circles at the bottom of a 350-foot canyon. He had no clue what it was and even thought that he might be hallucinating.

Out of curiosity, he then rappelled down the cliff and found a very weak dog believed to have been abandoned and left for good by his former owner at the bottom of the cliff.

When Anderegg came upon the dog, its condition bespoke his "abusers' handiwork".

The dog obtained three shotgun pellets embedded beneath his skin and had one broken leg. Its body was skinny and boney, and its teeth had turned permanently black from malnutrition.

As soon as he saw the abandoned dog in the canyon pit, — hurt, alone, and forgotten — Anderegg suddenly saw himself in the dog’s situation. He was also at the bottom of a veritable canyon himself — a canyon with imprisoning depth and darkness created by his sad and dark childhood.

“In the act of finding Riley where I did in the circumstances that I found him in, really struck a corner with my past. I really saw a form of myself,” Anderegg said, admitting his dark childhood.

Growing up, Anderegg dealt with a “never ending” bullying by some of his classmates. When he was in junior high, it even escalated to physical attacks.

Aside from his ordeal and threats by his classmates, Anderegg was also made to deal with his dysfunctional family at home.


“My mother was incapable of providing the love and support that I needed. My father was simply nonexistent and during my early childhood, my stepmother was verbally abusive when others were not around,” he said, adding that there were very few places where he felt any degree of safety.

His dark past made him rescue the dog and adopted it.

Anderegg and his wife called it “Riley.”

“I felt I’ve witnessed to something really wrong. And I was going to do in my power to right (correct) the wrong that I’ve witnessed,” he said.

Anderegg brought the weakly Riley to a veterinarian first and then drove it back to his home in Utah…

…where another dog was also waiting for him.

He then posted the video he took while rescuing Riley on Youtube and garnered more than five million views. Anderegg’s video then has caught the attention of different shows in America.

Riley and Anderegg had a few guestings on shows such as Today Show, Inside Edition, and The Ellen Show, among others.

“The meeting was one of a man and a dog singularly suited to save each other,” he said.

Anderegg said that as he witnessed Riley’s recovery and healing, how Riley started to trust people again and embrace life, he, in the process, has learned how to forgive and forget his past.

Anderegg then wrote a book entitled “Rescuing Riley, Saving Myself.” The book is about rescuing Riley and the whole process of his and Riley’s healing and recovery.

To know more of how Riley was rescued, watch Anderegg’s video below:

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