A dog is a man’s best friend — this phrase turned into reality when a Michigan man who broke his neck after slipping and falling outdoors in freezing conditions was saved by his pet dog.
The man, named only as Bob, left for his farmhouse to collect firewood. Despite the temperatures being around -4 C, he was just wearing long johns, a shirt and slippers. He thought he would make it to the farmhouse as it was just several meters away.
However, Bob was not very lucky; he slipped and broke his neck. He was left paralyzed and lying in the snow. His nearest neighbors lived a quarter of a mile away and were unable to hear him as he cried for help.
That is when Kelsey, his 5-year-old golden retriever jumped in for his rescue.
“I was screaming for help but my nearest neighbor is about a quarter mile away and it was 10:30 p.m., but my Kelsey came,” he said.
The dog kept him warm for nearly 20 hours by lying on him and kept him awake by licking his hands and face throughout the night.
Bob lost his voice by morning but Kelsey kept barking for help until it arrived when a neighbor heard her.
“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 it was my choice to stay alive,” he said.
After hearing Kelsey barking, one of his neighbors eventually found him, and called for the emergency services.
He was taken to the McLaren Northern Michigan Hospital where doctors said that Bob's core body temperature was dangerously low. However, the dog stopped him from developing severe hypothermia and frostbite by lying on top of him and licking his hands and face throughout the night.
“I was surprised to find out that I didn’t have any frostbite. I am sure it was because of Kelsey’s determination to keep me warm and safe,” said Bob.
Dr. Chaim Colen, the neurosurgeon treating Bob, performed spinal decompression surgery and was also “surprised” that he didn't suffer any frostbite.
“After the surgery, miraculously, he started to move his extremities with greater strength. Most people with spinal cord injuries, they don’t move. It’s tragic and when it’s done, it’s done. I don’t know if it was the cold temperatures that may have helped him or the fact he was laying down on the snow the way he was,” said Colen.
“I think animals can help and his dog really kept him alive and really helped him, he was very fortunate,” he added.
“I am so thankful for my two heroes. Kelsey kept me warm, alert, and never stopped barking for help. Dr. Colen saved my life and ability to move. They are truly heroes and I will be eternally grateful,” said Bob.
Miraculously, Bob’s surgery was a success but Dr. Colen said he will still have to undergo hours of physical therapy to make a good recovery.
Banner and thumbnail credit: Reuters, Bernadett Szabo