Dog found guarding 81-year-old skier’s body

CORRALES, N.M. (KRQE) - Still skiing at age 81, Robert Blake’s family tells KRQE News 13, he died doing what he loved. Rescuers found Blake’s body this weekend in Colorado, and his loyal companion right there with him, refusing to leave his owner’s side.

Blake was cross-country skiing over the weekend with his dog, Buddy. His wife said she finds comfort knowing her husband had a friend standing guard until they found him.

“I knew Buddy was with him, and would not leave him, I knew that, you know just from my heart,” recalled Marlene Blake. Marlene said that thought helped comfort her as search and rescuers looked for her husband, Bob, in Colorado this weekend.

The 81-year-old was cross-country skiing in Lizard Head Pass near Telluride, with his golden retriever, Buddy, something he often did.

But when Blake didn’t check in with his wife Friday night, “I knew, I knew he was dead, or he would’ve,” said Marlene. She said her husband would always call to let her know where he was.

Blakes’ neighbor at their cabin in Colorado found his vehicle Friday. Saturday afternoon, a search crew found Blake’s body under a tree in the snow, not far from the road. His loyal companion, Buddy, was still at his side.

“There are a large number of coyotes in the area and Buddy refused to leave Mr. Blake’s body until we spent some time coaxing him to trust us,” explained Sheriff Bill Masters, of San Miguel County in Colorado.

“He’s the hero in this,” said Marlene, looking at Buddy.

Blake’s wife said it appeared her husband had stopped for lunch when his heart gave out. “I used to say you know I worry about you, you might be in some snow-bank up there and I’ll never find you and he said, ‘don’t worry that’s where I want to be,’” recalled Marlene. “So he got his wish,” she cried.

An avid hiker, skier, hunter and fisherman, the lifelong outdoorsman and retired veterinarian loved exploring the land, and died doing what he enjoyed.

As for Buddy, “I couldn’t make it without him, I could not,” said Marlene, petting Buddy, who never dropped the stuff tiger in his mouth. Buddy is back home in Corrales, comforting his other owner.

Blake’s wife told News 13 her husband used a GPS tracker that would send her messages on the computer. She said the initial coordinates helped them find his vehicle.

At the same time ground crews found Blake’s body on Saturday, a helicopter involved in the search crash-landed in between some trees. Four people were on-board, but all of them were able to walk away. Sheriff Masters said the crash appeared to be caused by engine failure.

Blake’s family wants to thank search and rescue crews, and their neighbors in Colorado, where Bob is from. Marlene said her husband opened up one of the first veterinary practices in Albuquerque years ago. Most recently, Blake spent his time helping out with animal rescue charities and his church.

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