Max’s story is an incredible tale of survival and the kindness of strangers.

By Hilary Braaksma
January 01, 2021
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Max the German shepherd reunites with family
Credit: Oregon State Police Twitter

After surviving 19 days in the Columbia River Gorge, the vast stretch of wilderness that separates Washington and Oregon, Max the German shepherd has finally made it home safely. The family who searched tirelessly for him—and the community who selflessly rallied behind them—couldn’t be happier to have Max home in time to celebrate the New Year together.

On December 2, the Carmichael family stopped at the Memaloose rest stop on Highway 84 in northern Oregon. They were taking a quick break on their way home to Eugene when their beloved dog Max jumped out of an open car door. Before the family realized what was happening, Max had darted onto the highway. It was a terrifying moment as the dog was struck by a diesel truck almost immediately after his escape.

Max survived the impact and kept moving—and the Carmicheals followed. When they spotted the dog again, he was near a car in the road where a woman had stopped her vehicle. She also reported that Max had been hit by her car. Before they could make it to Max, the injured dog ran off again, this time into a brushy area near the rugged canyon. The family continued to search until nightfall, when they made the heart-wrenching decision to finish their 3-½ hour drive home.

Once home, the Carmichaels didn’t give up hope. They returned repeatedly to the area near the rest stop to search for Max, launched the blog BringMaxHome.com, and shared Max’s picture in local Columbia Gorge pet groups to spread awareness.

Finally, on December 21, the Carmichaels received the news they had been waiting for. Max had been spotted in the gorge near the rest stop by Department of Transportation workers who'd recognized him from local media attention. A K-9 officer from the Wasco County Sheriff's Office responded to the scene to find Max alive, but severely malnourished. The deputy brought him to the Columbia Veterinary Hospital for treatment, and law enforcement contacted the Carmichaels to let them know the pup had been found.

The Carmichael family rushed to the clinic to be reunited with their furry friend. Their tearful reunion was shared on social media by the Oregon State Police.

After weeks of worry and fear, Max is finally home and recuperating with his family. Matt Carmichael told local news that they’re overwhelmed with the kindness and generosity of the strangers who helped Max make it home.

“Kindness is still king,” the Carmichaels wrote in celebration of the good news. We couldn’t agree more.