Dogs Help Injured Woman Survive In The Woods
Dogs are often called "man's best friend." Well, as it turns out, they can be a woman's best friend too. In the case of one Canadian woman, dogs turned out to be the key to surviving in the wilderness when she was injured. Dogs have powerful survival instincts, and in this case, this woman might not be alive today if it wasn't for the help of her furry friends. How did this happen? What did the dogs do? Let's get started!
It was just supposed to be another long hike for Annette Poitras. She was walking three dogs on Burke Mountain in British Columbia. It was just supposed to be a two-hour hike, and it was one that she had done many times before.
There was no reason to think that this hike was going to be much different from any other time she had gone. It was a little bit rainy, but nothing unusual. This hike would turn out to be anything but normal, though.
It was November in British Columbia, and the rainy season had started. Annette was on her way back with the three dogs: Chloe, Bubba, and Roxy. Chloe was her dog, a collie. Bubba was a pug/poodle mix. Finally, Roxy was a boxer.
On her way back, it started to get wetter and wetter. The dogs pulled on her a bit, and she was trying to get home in the soggy conditions. Something would happen that would make this a far longer hike than usual.
As Annette and the dogs were heading back, she lost her footing in the forest and tripped over a log. This sounds minor, but Annette was hurt. She couldn't move or walk, and she would later find out that she had injured a muscle in the side of her body.
Even worse, she had lost her cell phone in the fall. She and the dogs were out in the wilderness alone. Annette was hurt and had no way of getting more help. Fortunately, the dogs were with her, and they would prove to be very helpful.
Annette's husband is named Marcel Poitras. He would later help her write a book about this experience called Three-Dog Nights. At the time, though, he didn't have any idea what was happening to his wife, but he knew that she hadn't come home.
He found out about her injuries later, telling the CBC that, "She basically had to lay there for quite a while. She couldn't move...No broken bones, but she got muscle damage right in a spot that didn't allow her to get up." She had the dogs to help her, but no one else.
The First Night
The forest was really wet, and even though she couldn't really move, Annette knew that she had to find some kind of dry ground. She watched as the dogs dug into the forest ground and burrowed in so that they could stay warm.
Marcel explained, "She just basically went on instinct and watched the dogs and kinda did some of the same things...The [forest] overburden soaks up the water [so] moving that out of the way she got down in the dirt where it's actually a little warmer and just basically hunkered down and waited for help." The dogs would need help too.
The dogs needed help too. Roxy was a short-haired boxer, and short-haired dogs get cold in the rain relatively easily. She was wearing two rain jackets, though, and she gave one to the shivering dog. Both of them were cold but surviving.
Marcel told the CBC, "Roxy was lying beside her...He has very short fur and was almost as cold as she was." Their body heat together helped keep them alive. Chloe had a specific job that she decided to do all on her own.
Chloe was Annette's dog. (As a professional dog-walker, the other two dogs didn't belong to her.) She decided that she had to do a dog's #1 job: protect her owner. She wasn't lazy about doing it either, even though she was also wet and shivering.
Marcel tells the story once again to the CBC, saying "Her dog Chloe, she's not one to cuddle so she didn't help in that sense. But she didn't lie down. She sat up all night and didn't sleep. She sat watching Annette, and Annette just really felt she was on guard all night." There was one more dog, though.
Bubba decided to wander off into the wilderness by himself. He didn't stay with Annette or the other two dogs at all. He wound up having an important role in Annette's rescue, though, even though he decided to go off on his own.
Annette knew that she couldn't abandon Bubba in the woods. Puggles aren't exactly known for their strong survival skills. She wouldn't see him again for the rest of the first night. Where did he go? It would wind up being the key to her survival.
The Next Day
Bubba went off to go find food. He was the most likely of the three dogs to have weaker coping mechanisms because puggles are a very domestic breed. That meant that Annette knew she had a responsibility to make sure he was safe.
Later on, Marcel said, "Bubba is very food-focused, and thought, if nobody is going to feed me, I'll go feed myself. So the next day, that's what got Annette off the ground and got her moving a little bit because she had to go find him. She found him and got them together, and they hunkered down."
Back at the house, news of the disappearance of Annette and the three dogs were beginning to spread. Pretty soon, a massive 60-person search party was being formed to go look for Annette and the dogs in the woods on Burke Mountain.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police and citizens from the nearby town of Coquitlam searched through the mountains. They went on foot and even used helicopters to try and find her and the dogs. It's a big area, though, and something would happen the next day that delayed the search.
On the second day, a giant rainstorm caused the search to be delayed. The area was becoming too windy and slippery to try and search effectively. This caused the RCMP to have to call off the search for the day, but some citizens still wanted to look.
Cpl Michael Mclaughlin of the RCMP told the CBC, "The truth is it's simply too dangerous right now for our rescuers to continue overnight, It should go without saying that if it's too dangerous out there for our expert rescuers, it is too dangerous for the public to come here and do their own attempt at rescue and investigation." The rescue operation would have to wait.
The Third Day
On the third day, the RCMP brought out an infrared sensor to pick up body heat. They still found nothing because the brush was simply too thick. At around 11 AM, some on-the-ground search teams heard a weak voice and dogs barking.
Annette and the dogs had been found! They were VERY far off the trail in an area that is normally forbidden to hikers. She hadn't any idea of how they got there. Marcel was ecstatic. He said, "I just want to say support your local search and rescue and hug your spouse tonight, whoever you're lying in bed with tonight, hold on to them,"
Annette had to be airlifted by helicopter out of the area. They gave her new, dry clothes, and they later came and airlifted the dogs out of the area as well. Annette was safe, and all three dogs were safe and sound. The dogs' owners were happy too.
Annette had injured one of her ribs and the muscles around it, which is why she couldn't walk. Al Hurley was the manager of the search and rescue team. He said, "It's a miracle to me that she seems in pretty good shape." She still had to go to the hospital, though.
Annette had to spend three nights in the hospital. She had a torn muscle and was dehydrated. When she got out, she had a lot of people to thank. She talked to the press and had to use a walker to get around, but she was finally safe.
She said, "I tell you, I wasn't getting off that mountain without those dogs. No way, no way, no way... That's my life, I love them, I love them, I just love dogs." She said she was going to go home, eat ice cream, and "be thankful I am here." There was an update on her later too.
It wasn't a completely happy ending for Annette, Marcel, and the dogs. Marcel teamed with a local writer to author a book about the experience. Annette had a hard time with it, though, and as of 2018, she still hadn't read the book.
She was loyal to the dogs, though. She told the CBC, "It's like reliving the what if's? What could I have done? I have nightmares still. Physically, I'm fine, but I have to get over it... I wanted to protect (the dogs) and make sure we got off that mountain alive." It seems as if she accomplished her goal!
This story of a dog-walker and her dogs being lost is a tremendously exciting and harrowing tale. It was a good thing that she had her dogs with her to help protect and cooperate with her. If you are a dog lover like Annette, please share this story with your friends. Thanks for reading!