Just another tale of a dedicated pooch staying beside a lost child and keeping her warm through a cold night. The story is from Arizona and features a a Queensland Heeler (or “Australian Cattle dog”) named Blue, and a three year-old girl named Victoria. The girl apparently wandered away from her home in a place called Cordes Lakes at about 5 p.m. last Thursday. The area being rugged and abutting state park land, finding her constituted a challenge that immediately demanded rescue teams, volunteers, ATVs, night-vision goggles, and a concerted attempt by local law enforcement to interrogate registered sex offenders in that locale. The night would get cold, falling to the mid-30s Fahrenheit, and the girl had been dressed in a t-shirt when she disappeared.
Despite the best efforts of all the people and resources that could be summoned, the night passed without the little girl being located. With sun-up, a rescue helicopter took off. Around 7:30, after being in the air only about five minutes, the rescuers saw the dog in a dry creek bed roughly a half a mile from the girl’s home, and then saw the girl too.
“She wasn’t moving when we first came upon her,” Uhl said. “She was kind of just looking face-down on the ground.”
She rose to her knees next. The helicopter landed about 50 yards away, and Tarr, the medic, approached the girl.
At first, Blue seemed apprehensive, as if he was protecting Victoria. The girl smiled, and Blue’s mood changed.
“I think once the dog realized we were there to help them out, he was very excited,” Uhl said. “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.”
At the hospital, Victoria’s mother and father were by her side. She was all smiles. Ernest Bensch, the dad, said he was going to get her some of her favorite food: chicken. “I am so very much relieved to have her back,” Bensch said. “I will finally be able to sleep tonight.”
And more from KPHO in Phoenix:
A faithful dog kept a 3-year-old girl warm in freezing temperatures when she was lost overnight, authorities said.
Kim Rayfield, the little girl’s aunt says, “I don’t even like animals and I hugged that dog so hard.”
“As soon as (the helicopter) got here … they spotted her,” said Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Jeff Newnum. “They saw movement — she (was) with the dog as we had hoped. She (was) huddled up with the dog and was keeping warm.”
The medic who spotted the little girl, Eric Tarr says,”I think the dog was initially apprehensive of me I was a little concerned he might bite me when I first walked up, but as I just walked right past the dog the dog realized I was there to help…you could see the dog’s expression almost turn to a smile it came right up to the helicopter and jumped right in no problem at all.”
Back at the command post, Blue leaped out of the chopper to greet Victoria’s mother, but ran back once he realized he’d left Victoria behind.
While Victoria’s mother reunited with her precious daughter, other family members praised their favorite canine.
“She cuddled with the dog, she was happy about that,” said Ernest Bensch. “She loves that dog.”
It occurs to me that you could question why, if the dog is so good and smart, it didn’t run back home and lead people to the little lost girl. That’s what Lassie would do, right? But applying the Lassie standard to a dog is a little like applying the James Bond standard to a human being. We can’t all always be able to do everything that needs to be done to defeat the latest evil, wealthy megalomaniacal genius who has a plan to destroy the world, but on a good day we might try to do our best in our small way to keep the darkness from overcoming the light. The dog named Blue didn’t know where the girl was going, or why she’d been in a position to wander off, and he couldn’t ask her to return home. Neither, however, could he know what might happen to her if he left her alone. Dogs, as anyone who’s owned one should know, have a pretty good sense of the bad things that can happen in this world. That’s why they bark so much at noises and at strangers. They know that there are things out there that will attack you, and things that will eat you. One of those things might be walking towards the house right now. All might be cozy and nice inside, but dogs know that everything can change in an instant, and that accounts for their at times irritatingly urgent reactions of alarm.
Blue felt his place was with the little girl, for whatever are the unfathomable reasons that a dog comes to those kinds of conclusions, and no doubt he would have tried to ward off anything that came to eat her; and for all we know he did. It was his inclination to stay beside her that saved her, most likely, from death via hypothermia. Blue was as much of a hero as he needed to be, and with luck he may live to see the girl he protected grow into a young woman; one who may not remember much if anything about what happened to her on that night in February of 2010, but, having been told about it, will always have good reason to appreciate the very special gift that dogs can be for us poor wandering human beings.