The Colombian military announced it was “improbable” it would find Wilson, the Belgian Malinois Shepard who led rescuers to four children lost in the Amazon jungle for 40 days.

After searching for more than 20 days, the military said it would desist from trying to find Wilson. Meanwhile, hundreds of Colombians and people worldwide continued to hope for a miracle. 

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“We have done absolutely everything in our power. We have spared no effort to find [Wilson]. Still, we are aware that it is practically improbable that we will,” General Pedro Sánchez, commander of Operation Hope, said. 

“Wilson will be remembered in our hearts and the hearts of the Colombian people, as we will do with other canines and our soldiers and policemen that have laid down their lives,” he said.

Wilson, the hero dog 

The Belgian Malinois Shepard got lost after helping rescuers find Lesly Jacombaire Mucutuy, 13; Soleiny Jacombaire Mucutuy, 9; Tien Noriel Ronoque Mucutuy, 4; and one-year-old Cristin Neriman Ranoque Mucutuy one month after the small plane crashed deep in the Amazon jungle on May 1.  

The six-year-old expert tracker led the rescuers to the children. The military found multiple clues that Wilson had seen the children before they did. 

Ten days after his disappearance, rescuers discovered the dog’s paw prints beside the children’s footprints. 

In an interview with Colombian radio, Sanchez said the children had informed him the dog accompanied them for “two or three days.”

Lesly Mucutuy drew a photo of the jungle and a dog with a black-and-coffee-colored coat similar to Wilson.

But Wilson was still missing after many days of searching.

Although the Colombian military vowed not to “abandon a fallen comrade,” the possibility of finding Wilson alive decreased with each passing day. It is now almost certain he will never return home. 

The rescuers last saw the canine on May 18, when he fled the search party. 

More than 70 members of the military participated in the search for Wilson 

They used several strategies — from bringing female dogs in heat to placing food at critical points so Wilson could maintain its strength.

According to the children, Wilson was already weakened by his time in the jungle. 

“Due to the complexity of the terrain, humidity and adverse weather conditions,” Wilson may have become “disoriented” and disappeared, the military said in a recent statement.

But, the indigenous people of the Cauca and Guaviare jungles believe they know what happened to Wilson.

They are certain the spirits of the jungle that took the children released them only in exchange for Wilson 

“Wilson was part of an exchange. He became an offering to the spirits that had the children,” Jose Dagua, an indigenous leader, said recently to the Colombian press. 

“It was a spiritual exchange,” Dagua said.

Yet, as the saying goes, hope springs eternal 

On Tuesday, June 27, a cellphone video showing a dog that looked like Wilson started circulating on social media. 

The dog in the video was spotted in the municipality of La Plata, Huila department. The animal has similar characteristics to Wilson and looks in pretty good shape.

But, the place where the video was taken is more than 300 kilometers from where the Belgian Malinois was initially lost. 

That is a long way to travel, even for a dog with Wilson’s training.