This story originally appeared at American Web Media.
Most of the time, dogs love to make new human friends – though such acquaintanceship usually takes place under the supervision of the dog’s full-time human.
This wasn’t the case for one Washington couple, who encountered an unaccompanied stray dog on a recent hike. The friendly dog was wearing a collar with tags and looked well-fed, but his owner was nowhere in sight, which seemed rather odd for a domesticated American dog.
“I made a joke to my wife that it was a bear,” Scott Brown told The Dodo, recalling the moment he and his wife first spotted the lonely black dog on the trail. Even though they’d never met before, the dog appeared to be patiently waiting for the hikers.
When they finally caught up, he proceed to confidently lead them all the way to Tenerife Falls, a popular waterfall attraction outside of Seattle.
“Well, I guess he’s coming with us,” Brown recalled thinking of the strange pooch, who woudln’t leave their side for the remainder of the seven-mile hike. When the dog got too far ahead, he would circle back and wait for his new friends, who stopped to take pictures and proceeded at a slower pace.
“He would sit and wait for us as we took photos and then continued on when we did,” Brown recalled.
Still, the Browns didn’t notice the tag on their new furry friend’s collar until they reached the top of the waterfall, where the unlikely group gathered to take a team photo. “Hi, I’m Smokey,” the dog’s tag read. “I live nearby so don’t take me. I like to follow hikers sometimes.”
The note was greatly reassuring to the couple, who had wondered whether their new friend had a family waiting for him at home. Washington State isn’t as frigid other parts of the country, but it was still wintertime, and the mountain was covered in snow.
“Don’t worry,” the tag continued. “I’ll go home when I get tired. My people love me a lot. Thanks for being nice!”
Sure enough, Smokey escorted his new humans back down the mountain, all the way back to their car. Hopefully, he went back home afterwards to eat dinner and warm up!