Christmas came last Saturday for Dean Kirtley, when he heard barking in his back yard.
"I couldn't believe it was him when I saw him," Kirtley said. "I thought he was dead."
His dog Skip returned home after being thought dead for a month. The beagle returned with two gunshot wounds and at half his weight, but he came back.
"He was out in the weather for a month," Kirtley says, "We're down in a valley and it gets about ten degrees cooler there than it does everywhere else, and we had some twenty degree weather down there and rain."
Kirtley suspects hunters shot Skip, and left him to die. After searching for a week, Kirtley had to assume Skip was gone.
Skip's vet, Dr. Anthony Holcomb, says the animal's journey is inspiring. "The heart and the bravery and the stamina that this puppy has shown is amazing. For him to be gone for a month, with the injuries that he had and then make it home."
Skip was wounded, infected, emaciated, and crippled. But the little dog kept going, all the way home. They thought he would have to be put to sleep, but Skip's determination changed their minds.
"He's got quite a bit of heart," Dr. Holcomb says. "He made it all the way home on two legs, he can move that good on two, even if we have to amputate both of them, he'll get along just fine."
Skip has responded to treatment, although his back leg will be amputated. In about a week, Skip will be well enough to travel.
"He's ready to come home," Kirtley says.
"And he's going to be a house dog."