For a group of experienced mountain climbers, their one critical error, a failure to heed the weather forecast, almost cost them their lives, and very well might have but for the actions of a Black Lab mix named Velvet.
Velvet Is A Hero
A few years ago, on a warm and pleasant Presidents' Day weekend, special education teacher, Matt Bryant, and seven of his experienced mountaineering friends from Portland, Oregon, decided to scale Mt. Hood. The plan was to camp out for the night and then return home the next morning. Bryant also took Velvet, his beloved Black Lab-Shepherd mix, that he found wandering alone in the Nevada desert a few years before. (See: Cat Rescues Injured Hiker.)
When they reached the halfway mark up the mountain, they dug caves in the snow and went to sleep. Overnight, the weather changed, and when the group awoke the next morning, they were confronted with a total whiteout and tempestuous winds. Focused on how to get back down the mountain without getting killed, everyone roped up, with Bryant, Kate Hanlon, Christina Redl and Velvet all clipped together. (See: Frantic Dog Leads Police To Rescue Scene.)
Danger Lurks At Every Twist and Turn
Bryant led the group at a walk down the steep slopes, hoping to make it to a nearby ski area. Unfortunately, they missed their target at about 8,200 feet, and Bryant fell over the edge of the cliff, pulling his team with him. A 600-foot slide landed them in the White River Canyon. Bryant was unhurt, but Redl was knocked unconscious for a few minutes, and Hanlon twisted her ankle. Velvet sustained a bleeding paw. (See: Frida The Rescue Dog
Desperate Cries For Help Seem To Go Unheeded
The remaining members of the hiker group called for help. They notified 911 and called the sheriff's office at the foot of the mountain. While this was going on, Bryant and the others were busy sending signals with their rented Mountain Locator Unit. The storm was growing more and more intense by the minute. The group plodded across the heavy snow for more than 45 minutes before reaching a sheltered spot near a boulder where they spread out their foam pads, climbed into their sleeping bags and under the tarp, pulling Velvet inside with them. (See: Half-Wolf Rescues Elderly Couple In Snowstorm.)
The Temperatures Plummet And They Fear For Their Lives
After they were rescued, they learned that the winds had reached 70 mph, and the temperature, with wind chill, hit about 20 degrees below zero. They performed isometric exercises every half hour in an effort to keep their blood circulating. Here's where Velvet enters the heroic picture. Without any prompting, she stretched out across each one of them in turn, warming them with her own body heat. In Bryant's own words: "Twenty four hour after we lay down, we looked up to see three or four guys— angels— there to rescue us. Another day and we might not have made it." (See: Kelsey The Hero Retriever.)
Even though everyone in the group was an experienced mountaineer, collectively they made one critical error. They didn't pay attention to the weather report that predicted severe snowstorms. However, they did everything else right and they had Velvet with them, which unquestionably saved the day (and their lives). Bryant suffered from temporary frost nip, which could have turned into frost bite, but because Velvet draped herself over his feet and settled there, he suffered no permanent damage. He told the press: "That we made it off the mountain alive and not permanently injured, is truly a miracle." (See: Homeless Russian Cat Saves Baby From Freezing To Death.)
Bryant married some time later and dear Velvet was still by his side. At his wedding, she served as his furry ring-bearer, and she charged down the aisle upon cue when her services were required.
God job, Velvet!
See also: Bretagne
Source: US News.com