Put down that state-of-the-art GPS. A 15-month-old golden retriever may be all the survival gear you need to take with you into the backcountry.
On Sunday, Alaskan Otis Orth wrecked his snowmachine on a remote road and may have survived only because of his loyal dog, Amber.
According to the Alaska Dispatch, that Sunday morning, the 52-year-old Orth left his home in Alaska's Trapper Creek community, an area 116 miles north of Anchorage, to get supplies from town. But as Orth rode his snowmobile down an icy trail, he took a shortcut. His vehicle passed over a hollow snow drift, sending him and his dog, Amber, into the air.
After sliding about 30 feet, Orth couldn't move, was covered in cuts and blood, and had serious injuries to his arms, legs, and shoulders.
Her owner immobilized, Amber lay by his side through the night to keep him warm even as temperatures dipped into the low single digits. The next day, Orth found himself sinking into the snow, and feared for his eyes as a raven began to examine him—until Amber ran the bird off.
Later that morning, and more than 24 hours after the crash, Orth heard snowmobiles. He instructed Amber to go get the attention of the riders. The dog hadn't strayed more than 20 yards from Orth until then.
At first the men, brothers Tom and Maynard Taylor, saw Orth's snowmobile and thought he was in the bushes going to the bathroom, or something else unremarkable. When they heard Amber, they worried about stopping—one of their own snowmobiles was low on fuel. But as soon as the brothers slowed, Amber led them to Orth.
The brothers helped keep Orth warm until a LifeMed helicopter arrived, but when they tried to put a leash on Amber to move her away from the landing zone, the dog wouldn't leave Orth's side.
Orth is now stable, and recovering in an Anchorage hospital, but he may lose a few toes to frostbite. Rerports indicate he'll also need spinal surgery to fuse three of his vertebrae.
It's hard to overestimate the bond between canines and humans: In December, Orth rescued Amber from a kennel. On Sunday, Amber payed him back.
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