Dog saves life of man paralyzed in snow after injury

PETOSKEY, Mich. (WSVN) — While many celebrated the end of 2016 on New Year’s Eve, a Michigan man was lying paralyzed in the snow, just steps from his home.

The man, only identified by local news outlets as Bob, said he ran outside in only his slippers, long johns, and a shirt to get a log for his fireplace. That’s when he said he slipped and fell, becoming paralyzed from the neck down.

Bob said his closest neighbor lives about a quarter of a mile away, since he lives on a northern Michigan farm. So when he started calling for help, the neighbor couldn’t hear him. But his golden retriever Kelsey did.

“By morning my voice was gone and I couldn’t yell for help, but Kelsey didn’t stop barking,” Bob told the News-Review. “She kept barking for help but never left my side.”

As he lay paralyzed in snow outside his home, Bob said Kelsey started barking loudly, and kept at it for nearly 20 hours as temperatures dropped to the mid-20s.

Kelsey also laid on top of him to keep him warm, licking his face and hands.

Kelsey’s barking eventually turned to howls, and finally caught the attention of Bob’s neighbor, who found him unconscious the next evening.

Paramedics rushed Bob to the emergency room. He was hypothermic, with his core body temperature under 70 degrees. He was also in atrial fibrillation, and had two disc herniations in his neck. One of those herniations compressed his spinal cord, causing acute paraplegia, or paralysis.

Doctors rushed Bob into surgery, decompressing his spinal cord, and allowing him to move his extremities.

Remarkably, he had no frostbite, despite the below-freezing temperatures.

“I was surprised to find out that I didn’t have any frost bite,” Bob told the paper. “I am sure it was because of Kelsey’s determination to keep me warm and safe.”

Although he is no longer paralyzed, doctors said he will need intense physical and occupational therapy to regain function. Bob said he’ll be eternally grateful to those who saved his life.

“Kelsey kept me warm, alert, and never stopped barking for help. Dr. Colen saved my life and ability to move,” Bob said. “I am so thankful for my two heroes.”

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