CHICAGO — A dog has 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, identified only as Bob as he didn’t wat to reveal his last name for family privacy, was alone when he left his farmhouse in Petoskey, Michigan, on New Year’s Eve to collect firewood.
Bob had been watching a football game inside his farmhouse when he decided to get another log for his fireplace. He went outside around 10:30 pm wearing only a pair of slippers, long johns and a long-sleeved shirt.
But he slipped on some icy steps and landed on his back on the frozen, snow-covered ground.
“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.
He knew right away he had broken something because he couldn’t move anything except his elbows, he told his family later.
“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 20 hours, Bob lost consciousness, but Kelsey kept barking until eventually his neighbour, Rick, discovered him.
Rick called Bob’s daughter, Jenny who drove immediately up from Grosse Pointe after receiving a phone call.
Bob was taken to McLaren Northern Michigan hospital, where he was treated for hypothermia and irregular heart rhythm. He had surgery to repair two herniated discs that compressed his spinal cord and resulted in paralysis.
“He has marks on his arms from her pawing at him when he was losing consciousness,” said the Bob’s daughter, Jenny. “It was like, she knew that he had to stay awake because if he fell asleep he wouldn’t wake up again.”
Fortunately it’s because Bob had Kelsey with him. The 70-pound golden retriever lay on top of his chest and stomach and licked him repeatedly. Doctors believe the dog’s actions helped prevent her owner from getting frostbite.
“I think animals can help and his dog really kept him alive and really helped him, he was very fortunate,” Chaim Colen, a neurosurgeon at McLaren Northern Michigan, who evaluated Bob, said.
With Agency Inputs