Dog Keeps Lost Toddler Warm Through Freezing Night
Victoria Bensch, the toddler rescued by her heroic dog, Blue. (Photo Courtesy of Yavapai County Sheriff's Office)
An amazing story of loyalty and survival came to a happy ending when 3-year-old Victoria Bensch was found with her dog, Blue, near Cordes Lake, Arizona, causing a collective sigh of relief among frantic family and searchers.
The toddler had wandered off her parents' back porch and into the nearby remote mountain and valley area, wearing nothing but a T-shirt, pants and shoes. "The risk of hypothermia and other cold-related conditions brought all the rescue people," said Dwight D'Evelyn, spokesman for the Yavapai County Sheriff's Office.
"All the rescue personnel were very concerned because of the weather," said D'Evelyn of the temperature, which had dipped to the low 30s from the evening of Thursday, Feb. 18 to early Friday morning. "The search went on through the night because we knew we needed to find her, and we knew we needed to find her before another night out there to be able to find her safe and healthy."
Victoria was found with a light case of frostbite, laying under some brush, 15 hours from the time she went missing.
"We had a good indication of where she had wandered off," D'Evelyn told Zootoo Pet News this week. "We also had folks on horseback heading straight to her, but it was the helicopter that found her first."
Victoria was taken to Phoenix Children's Hospital, and released soon after in good condition. D'Evelyn says that the toddler's good condition was due to her faithful dog, Blue, a 5-year-old Queensland Heeler.
"We had been hoping to find the dog overnight and that would lead to her - but the dog did stay with her all night. And that was probably the saving grace," D'Evelyn said.
To Victoria's father, Ernest Bensch, who wasn't home at the time she went missing, the discovery of Blue and Victoria together was predictable.
"The dog never leaves the yard or the house, so I wasn't very surprised that Blue was with her," Bensch told Zootoo. "The dog is always with her - playing ball together and running around together."
The family has another dog, Rusty - an 8-year-old Red Cleveland - who is also good with Victoria, but it is clear that Blue is the little girl's dog.
Both dogs were out in the yard with Victoria, when the toddler took off after something which caught her curiosity, D'Evelyn explained.
"Apparently, the father was not home, and the mom left the child on the porch briefly to go in the house, and [Victoria] got curious about something and the dog took off with her," D'Evelyn said.
It was an odd scenario, Bensch said, as neither his daughter nor Blue has ever been known to run off.
Victoria couldn't find her way back, "getting disoriented to her surroundings," and Blue stayed with her until help arrived. In addition to Blue's presence saving the girl from the effects of exposure by his laying with her and keeping her warm, D'Evelyn says the dog might be a hero for another reason.
"There are predators out there," D'Evelyn said of the remote area Victoria was found, which is less than a mile from her home. "There was evidence of snakes, and the coyotes were howling that night. When we got there, they didn't appear to have been a threat to her and the dog might have been a factor in that."
Now life is getting back to normal for the Bensch family, with Blue and Victoria "playing together and walking around together," her father said.
Nevertheless, the family is getting calls from as far as Australia with media and well-wishers offering treats for Blue.
"That is what they have embraced, that Blue is the hero," Bensch said.
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