A golden retriever named Amber is credited with saving the life of its owner, who had crashed his snowmobile and laid on the ice for 24 hours before the dog summoned help, much like in an episode of “Lassie.”
The incident occurred around 2 p.m. on Sunday while Otis Orth, 52, was bringing supplies to his Alaskan home of Trapper Creek, 116 miles north of Anchorage, according to reports inAlaskaDispatch and the Anchorage Daily News.
Amber, the dog who rescued its owner, a snowmobiler who had crashed, is petted by an Alaska State Trooper; photo courtesy of the Alaska State Troopers Facebook page
Orth was traveling an icy trail toward the roadway when an unseen dip sent him crashing.
“I tried to take a shortcut and ran into a hollow snow drift and that kind of kicked the back end of the snowmachine forward, and I went over the handlebars and slid for about 30 or 40 feet on my face and back,” Orth told AlaskaDispatch.
“It was kind of happening in slow motion, and I was thinking, ‘This has got to stop pretty soon.’ And when it did stop, Amber came running over to me. I couldn’t move, but I could talk to her, and she was licking my face.”
The crash left him with a neck injury and dislocated arms. Orth waited for help that never came. Temperatures dipped to 9 degrees and hypothermia became an issue as the man and his dog spent the night together.
The warmth from his dog helped him survive the frigid night.
“I could feel a little heat coming from her body on my right arm and across my body,” he told AlaskaDispatch.
Trapper Creek, Alaska, courtesy of Google Maps
At about 1:30 p.m. on Monday, Orth heard the sound of an approaching snowmobile and got Amber excited, telling the dog to “Go get them.”
Tom Taylor, 68, of Trapper Creek and his brother, Maynard, were riding together when they happened upon a snowmobile off the main trail, a typical sight.
Running low on fuel and surmising the rider was in the bushes relieving himself, the Taylors didn’t want to stop.
“Then, this dog came after us and I thought, ‘Oh, I don’t want the dog trailing us,’ so I sped up,” Taylor told the AlaskaDispatch. “But the dog stayed with us and kept barking.”
Taylor slowed down and watched the dog run back and sit down about 100 feet from the abandoned snowmobile. Taylor decided to check it out and discovered Orth lying on his back in snow and ice. The pair then summoned help and kept Orth warm until a LifeMed Alaska helicopter arrived, some 26 hours after the initial crash.
“I owe that dog my life,” Orth said from his hospital bed at Providence Alaska Medical Center, according to the Anchorage Daily News. “If I had stayed out there one more night I wouldn’t have made it.”
AlaskaDispatch reported that Orth would be undergoing spinal surgery to fuse three vertebrae, and that he might need to have some toes on his left foot amputated due to frostbite.
But he’s alive, thanks to his dog, Amber.