A faithful family dog may be the only thing that stood between three-year-old Victoria Bensch and death from exposure. The Arizona girl wandered away from her house in the evening and got lost in the nearby mountains, where the temperatures dipped below 30 degrees overnight.
Some 15 hours later, rescuers in a helicopter spotted her lying face down in a dry creek bed next to her dog, a Queensland heeler named Blue. Victoria’s feet were swollen, she had frostbite, and her body was covered with scratches, according to the Arizona Republic.
At first, Blue seemed apprehensive, protective of Victoria, according to the newspaper. But then she smiled and Blue relaxed.
“I think once the dog realized we were there to help them out, he was very excited,” Department of Public Safety pilot Matthew Uhl told the newspaper. “He ran around while the medic tended to the little girl, and when it was time to go, he jumped right into the helicopter and was ready to go.”
One sheriff’s official is calling her survival “a miracle.” If it weren’t for Blue, many think Victoria wouldn’t have made it.
“The dog kept her alert, warm and gave her companionship throughout a very cold night,” Dwight D’Evelyn, spokesman for the Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office, told the paper.
The girl had apparently left her home because she was looking for the family’s other dog, Rusty, whom she mistakenly thought had wandered off. She was wearing little more than a t-shirt and pants.
Victoria was taken to the hospital to treat her frostbite. She is expected to be fine.
And Blue is expected to be hailed as a hero for the rest of his life.