Two dogs have shown an amazing devotion to their master, to their own detriment.Gary Lorenz disappeared in September from his home in Cotopaxi, which is between Salida and Canon City. He had Alzheimer's disease.His body was found last week surrounded by his dogs, Pippin and Merry.The golden retrievers stayed with their master, guarding his body, for at least three weeks after he died. They lost about 9 pounds each but vets say they are healthy.A massive search involving at least 100 people was conducted after Lorenz disappeared Sept. 29, but they turned up nothing. Officials say he had died five days later.The 63-year-old retired Air Force colonel was found by a hunter Oct. 20 about four miles from his ranch.Searchers told the family they heard barking occasionally, but assumed it may have come from dogs at a nearby house.The 3-year-old dogs, brother and sister, were returned home shortly thereafter. They were very hungry and thirsty.Lorenz's widow told the Mountain Mail that finding the dogs were "bittersweet" because she and her daughter were glad the dogs were found, but were sad to lose Gary."We feel the lord has been very merciful, sending them back to me," said Sandee Lorenz, Gary's widow. "We felt the dogs were with Gary and helped him pass from this life to the next.""Now that we have the dogs back we feel like we've gotten a little piece of Dad back. He loved these dogs and they loved him. They never left his side. They watched him. He was having trouble communicating with all of us but he always seemed to be able to talk to the dogs. They were his best friends," said Deanna Lorenz, Gary's daughter. "We are so happy to have them back to remind us of the relationship he had with them and to help my mom get through her tough weeks ahead. They will be here to comfort here."Sandee Lorenz said the dogs were emaciated when they returned and she initially fed them every few hours so they wouldn't overeat.Sandee's daughter, Deanna, told the newspaper, "Merry was a little overweight before she disappeared, so we're trying to keep her about where she is now."She told the paper she wasn't sure what the dogs were eating, other than berries, but said dogs can go for several days without water.It helped that the dogs had each other to lean on, Sandee said."Pippin would never leave Gary and Merry would never leave Pippin," she said.Merry had a slight limp, and Pippin seems to be more aggressive now, the family said.Sandee said this wasn't the first time the dogs were lost. When they were about 6 months old, they wandered off for three days. The dogs never went out exploring again.The family said that the support they've received from the community about the dogs' return and the loss of Gary has been overwhelming.Lorenz graduated from the Air Force Academy in 1967, became a pilot and flew combat missions in Vietnam with an F-4 Phantom. He served as a commander of Cadet Group One at the Academy, then as deputy commandant of the cadet, then vice commandant of cadets. In 1990 to 1991, Lorenz was wing commander of Incirlik Air Base in Turkey, supporting Operation Desert Storm. He retired in 1991.On Sept. 29, Lorenz took his ATV and his two dogs over a ridge above his home. He died four days later from exposure and dehydration.His body was later found in a steep and wooded area. Helicopters missed his body when looking overhead because a tree that he was leaning on blocked their view.
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