Dog Starts 2017 by Saving Owner Who Broke His Neck on New Year's Eve

Kelsey the golden retriever stayed with her owner for 20 hours in the cold to ensure he was safe

Courtesy of McLaren Northern Michigan
Photo: Courtesy of McLaren Northern Michigan

Bob might have missed all of 2017 if it wasn’t for his dog Kelsey.

The Michigan man was sitting at home on New Year’s Eve watching television when he decided to quickly run outside in his pajamas to pick up a few logs for the fire, according to the McLaren Northern Michigan Emergency Department. The brief 15-ft. trip turned into a treacherous 20-hour journey when Bob slipped and fell while he was outside, breaking his neck.

Paralyzed from the injury, Bob screamed for help from the frozen ground, but with his nearest neighbor a quarter-mile away, no human heard his calls. Luckily, his loyal golden retriever did.

“It was 10:30 p.m., but my Kelsey came,” Bob said. “By morning my voice was gone and I couldn’t yell for help, but Kelsey didn’t stop barking.”

For 20 hours, Kelsey endured the 24-degree weather with Bob and barked for help. To keep her owner warm, the dog would spread herself across Bob’s body and lick his face to ensure he didn’t lose consciousness.

“She kept me warm and alert. I knew I had to persevere through this and that it was my choice to stay alive,” Bob added. “She was letting out this screeching howl that alerted my neighbor. He found me at 6:30 p.m. on New Year’s Day.”

Bob was rushed to McLaren Northern Michigan Emergency Department, where doctors found him to be hypothermic, in atrial fibrillation and suffering from two disc herniations, causing his paralysis. Shockingly, Bob had no frostbite, which he attributes to Kelsey’s attentive care.

Courtesy of McLaren Northern Michigan

“I immediately took the patient back to the operating room for decompression of his spinal cord and stabilization. After the surgery, miraculously, he started to move his extremities with greater strength,” Chaim Colen, MD, Neurosurgeon at McLaren Northern Michigan, said about what happened next.

Now, Bob is on the road to recovery. He will need intense physical and occupational therapy to be able to return home and to work, but Bob is certain he has the dedication it takes to get moving again.

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

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