"I'll probably always see her eyes just looking up at me as she slid down into that thing," Pick said in an interview this week. "You could tell that she was scared."
That was the start of a weeklong ordeal for 3-year-old Lizzie, who somehow survived a week in the snowy backcountry before being spotted at a lake about 5 miles away.
Pick, who had searched the avalanche chute in vain for the dog, said he and his wife are "both still kind of pinching ourselves, afraid that it's a dream or something. We still don't know exactly what transpired."
Lizzie was with Pick as he went backcountry skiing Jan. 27 on a ridge on Mount Blackmore, south of Bozeman.
Pick said Lizzie had moved ahead of him, and he was about to tell her to move away from the ridge when a cornice broke 8 to 10 feet from the edge, sparking the avalanche.
"Once the snow cleared on the bottom, I couldn't see anything. There was no response; there was nothing moving around. It was about as helpless a feeling as you could experience," Pick said.
The 58-year-old state water quality specialist made his way down the mountain and back up the chute to search for the dog. He searched again two days later but still could not find Lizzie, a constant companion to Pick and his wife.
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The couple, still grieving, were planning to attend a dinner with friends on Sunday when Pick's cell phone rang.
The caller, Jess Sullivan, told Pick that he and his family had been riding snowmobiles and ice fishing at Hyalite Reservoir when they noticed a black Lab hanging around. He said that they were among the last to leave and that the dog didn't seem to be with anyone, so they took her back to Bozeman and called the number on her tag.
"It turned out they live less than a mile from where we do," Pick said. "We were right over there and picked her up. Other than a pretty good cut on her head that had already started to heal, other smaller cuts and losing somewhere between 5 and 10 pounds, she looked great."
The vet said Lizzie was fine, aside from having to be gradually reintroduced to solid food. But the keen bird dog won't be joining Pick on any more mountain treks.
"Lizzie is, I think, officially retired," Pick said. "She's going to stick to the low-angle terrain from now on."
Press; By AMY BETH HANSON]
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