Chicago, Jan 15: In a heroic act, a dog saved his 64-year-old owner's life by lying on top of him for nearly 24 hours to keep him warm in freezing conditions as the man lay paralysed in snow after falling and breaking his neck.
The man, named only as Bob, was alone when he left his farmhouse in Petoskey, Michigan, on New Year's Eve to collect firewood. 5-year-old golden retriever Kelsey happened to be with Bob when during halftime of the Fiesta Bowl, Bob decided to walk outside his house in just his long johns, slippers and a shirt to get firewood for the fireplace.
The short, 15-foot walk turned traumatic when Bob slipped and fell and then could not move. "I was screaming for help, but my nearest neighbour is about a quarter-mile away and it was 10:30 PM, but my Kelsey came," Bob was quoted as saying by Petoskey News.
"By morning my voice was gone and I couldn't yell for help, but Kelsey didn't stop barking." For the next 20 hours, Bob remained paralysed in the snow in temperatures that dipped very low. Bob claims Kelsey kept him warm by laying on top of him, licking his face and hands to help keep him awake. "She kept barking for help, but never left my side. She kept me warm and alert. I knew I had to persevere through this and that was my choice to stay alive," he was quoted as saying.
After being outside for 19 hours, Bob lost consciousness, but Kelsey kept barking until eventually his neighbour, Rick, discovered him. "She was letting out this screeching howl that alerted my neighbour. He (Rick) found me at 6:30 PM on New Year's Day," Bob said. Bob's daughter, Jenny, drove immediately up from Grosse Pointe after receiving a phone call from her father's neighbour.
Chaim Colen, a neurosurgeon at McLaren Northern Michigan, evaluated Bob. "I immediately took the patient back to the operating room for decompression of his spinal cord and stabilisation. After the surgery, miraculously, he started to move his extremities with greater strength," Colen said. Colen said Bob will need extensive rehabilitation, which he has already begun.
He took 40 steps with help from a walker in rehab last Tuesday, a week following his operation. "He was picked up by his neighbour and his dog, that's one of the main reasons why he survived," he said. Colen also said Bob was extremely fortunate in fact that he did not get frostbite to any of his extremities. "I think animals can help and his dog really kept him alive and really helped him, he was very fortunate," Colen added.