Hugging a dog can certainly feel good, but sometimes hugging a dog can even save your life! And I’m not talking about the emotionally therapeutic benefits of simply snuggling with your furry pup. I’m talking about literally staying alive in conditions that might entail almost certain death because a dog is laying on top of you.
That was the situation avid mountain climber Grga Brkic found himself in when he fell while trying to summit a peak with his dog whom he appropriately named North. Brkic fractured a bone in his leg and realized that he couldn’t make his way back down the slopes, and North who is bred for colder temperatures lept into action… well, more accurately, laid softly down into action.
In order to ensure his owner and best friend’s survival, North knew that the only thing to do was to lay on top of Grga and keep him warm as temperatures plummeted to below freezing. They stayed that way for thirteen hours. That’s like watching the entire Harry Potter series back to back while a dog lays on top of you in the freezing snow.
The next morning hikers discovered the and alerted the authorities who actually lept into action and saved the two.
An 8-month-old Alaskan malamute, North, was the hero during a rescue effort in the mountains of Croatia. He rescued an injured mountaineer by lying on him for 13 hours. North kept Grga Brkic warm after he fell and was injured and his friends could not reach him. pic.twitter.com/MSSuARkn4n
— Kosmos 94.1 (@Kosmos941) January 5, 2022
This is, of course, not the only story of dogs saving people from freezing to death – the world is, fortunately or unfortunately, full of them. I recently had a story about a stray keeping a girl alive during a blizzard in Russia. There’s another story of a dog that kept a man in Michigan from freezing to death. No shortage of canine heroism there.
However, while breeds like North are huge, lovable, and super furry and can withstand freezing cold temperatures for really long periods of time, not all can do the same. Dogs like Huskies have been known to survive temperatures as low as -60⁰ Fahrenheit for really long periods of time. Meanwhile, the average Labrador Retriever (the most popular breed according to the AKC) can really only survive about 20⁰ F for prolonged periods of time on average. That’s still a good amount of cold resistance, but won’t exactly last long at the top of a mountain.
To that end this is a really great opportunity to remind everyone that our pups, amazing and resilient though they may be, need to be taken care of as well. PETA has reported that in the past two years alone 41 pets, (not strays, we’re talking animals with homes here) have been left outside and frozen to death.
So, if North can do his part to save his mountaineering friend from freezing to death we can do our part to help our friends stay warm as well.