Boys Church group recounts grueling dog rescue in High Uintas
Jul 17, 2023, 7:47 PM | Updated: Jul 18, 2023, 5:02 pm
UTAH COUNTY, Utah — When you get a group of boys together, the conversation can get interesting, to say the least.
On Monday afternoon, nearly a dozen boys ages 11 to 14 gathered at a park pavilion in Highland, excitedly talking, joking and laughing. Some made noises and whistled; others came up with silly rhymes that made the whole group break out in chuckles.
They were part of a young men’s group with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Reid Freeman, 13, Daymion Wood, 12, Tanner Knighton, 12, Wyatt Brouwer, 12, Spencer Eaves, 11, and Owen Rawlins, 12, sat on top of a picnic table on one side, facing Blaine Robertson, 14, Thomas Eaves, 14, Spencer Brown, 14, Max Roos, 15, and Aaron Brouwer, 14.
They have a lot to talk about after their weekend camping trip in the High Uintas Wilderness. The fun was mixed with personal growth, learning about service, and talking about the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
“We had a bunch of like devotionals about being like one heart and one mind,” Brown said.
On the last day, a father and son approached their campsite after making the rounds to other campsites.
“‘My dog is injured,'” Spencer Eaves said, recounting what the father told them. “We were eating breakfast, and he’s like, ‘Can you guys help us?'”
It turned out that the family dog, Otis, would not get out of the tent. The dad and son realized Otis hurt his paws on the 4.25-mile hike up to Island Lake. After camping overnight, Otis wouldn’t be able to hike back down.
“It was a big dog,” Brown recalled when he saw Otis and the poor pup’s condition.
The boys immediately wanted to help.
“I’m like, how can just these two people carry this big dog down?” Wyatt asked.
With the help of an adult, the boys collected two fallen logs.
“Then another camp gave us a tarp, and some and some zip ties. And we just put the zip ties around the logs, and put it through the holes,” Spencer Eaves explained.
They loaded the big boy onto the tarp. They said he was acting nervous at first, and clearly in pain. But after the group got going, Otis settled down. The boys began the more than 4-mile trek down to the trailhead, taking turns carrying the makeshift stretcher.
Jeff Eaves, father of the two Eaves boys and young men’s adviser, explained just how challenging the hike was for the group.
“We all have heavy backpacks. We’re also trying to carry this dog. We’re going up super steep hills. So, super rocky, and you’re trying to go side-by-side on this single path trail, and so you’re a lot of times you’re off the path,” he explained. “We had logs that were covering the path that we had to go underneath, with other logs that we had to go over.”
The boys were exhausted and ran out of water — using water filters to collect more from a stream.
Part of the group had hiked ahead, Eaves explained, and after reaching the trailhead, they turned around and hiked back to help the rest of the boys carry Otis down. They wouldn’t give up.
“What was going through my mind? I got to do this. These people are in need,” Wyatt said. “There’s a lot of us, but you got to take turns. Other people were tired. I was tired.”
Jeff said they had just talked about how service isn’t always easy or convenient on their camping trip.
“They didn’t stop. They just kept going,” he said. “They never complained. They worked as a team, and it was just awesome.”
They finally made it down, everyone relieved, tired, and ready to eat and head home.
“We got down, I’m like, ‘Yes, we’re done! We can go get more food!'” Roos said.
Roos said the whole experience united them and strengthened their bonds.
“You just feel really good inside,” he said.
Proving that when you get a group of boys together, they can come together and conquer.
“When the call for help came, I was so proud of these boys that they were willing to just jump in. They didn’t hesitate,” Jeff said.
“If you have the chance, you got to help and serve,” Wyatt said.
“When somebody asks you to help, you help. And not try to make excuses,” Brown said. “And it’s going to be hard. You just have to push through it. You have to believe you can.”
Otis’ owner says he is recovering and doing much better. He said this was an annual father-son trip they’d taken every year with Otis for the past four or five years without any issues.
He was taken by surprise that Otis was injured and expressed his gratitude to the group of boys who carried Otis down.