A dog that this week discovered a hiker who may have been trapped for days on Riverside's Mount Rubidoux won a distinction called the "Heroic Mutt Award."
Mole was with his owner, Ramon Llamas, on their regular hike when the pooch on Monday found a visitor stuck under a pile of large rocks on the popular and busy Riverside landmark.
The German Shepherd mix tugged Llamos' pant leg, whimpering and taking him toward a cluster of boulders. Within, Llamas found a man trapped.
"I said to the guy, 'Do you need help? Are you OK?' And when he reacted, he says, 'Is somebody there?'" Llamas recalled Monday. "'I'm a tourist. I'm hungry.'"
Lllamas called for help and stayed with the man, who said his name was Paul, until a rescue team arrived. Llamas gave water to the man, who reported he was visiting from the East Coast and had been stuck for four to six days.
"He was so thankful," Llamas said.
Paul was hospitalized with severe hydration, but details about his experience were unavailable since he chose not to speak to news media. Rescuers said it couldn't be certain exactly how long he had been trapped.
On Wednesday, the animal rights advocacy group PETA deemed Mole worthy of its "Heroic Mutt Award" for finding Paul.
"He'd be dead if it wasn't for that dog," said one firefighter, according to PETA.
Mole will get a doggie bag with vegan treats, a new harness and toy as part of his award "for saving Paul's life," PETA said in a press release.
"Dogs are more than our best friends — as Mole demonstrated, they're our family members, our protectors, and our heroes," said PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman. "PETA hopes that Mole's tenacity and care will inspire anyone looking for a dog to head to an animal shelter — they're full of lovable, wonderful mutts just like Mole."