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Hero the dog lives up to his name and leads rescuers to owner who spent 2 days in a ditch

A 61-year-old man in the southern Alberta town of Taber trapped in a muddy ditch for two days could have been there a lot longer if it wasn’t for his dog — an Akita named Hero.

“It could have been a missing persons investigation that was reported to us,” said Const. Austin Weersink with the Taber Police Service. 

Police believe the man got stuck in mud while walking in the area, a location he frequents often with his two dogs: Hero and Tora. He was unable to move, and the location was out of clear sight from the road.

Then, on Thursday morning, police received a call about a large dog on the loose just north of the sugar refinery in Taber — a town about 270 kilometres southeast of Calgary.

When officers arrived, they couldn’t locate the dog.

Dog attack leads to rescue

A few hours later, police received another call regarding the same area. This time, it was a man who said he was with his dog when they were attacked by another large dog.

The dog who was responsible for the attack was Hero, Taber police said in a post to Facebook. When police arrived on scene again they saw Hero laying on a berm and whistled to get his attention.

Weersink says that’s when he heard a loud cry for help. 

WATCH | Man rescued thanks to dog after 2 days stranded in mud: 

A dog named Hero saves his owner’s life

2 hours ago

Duration 2:03

Living up to his name, an Akita breed dog in Taber, Alta., named Hero saved the life of his owner by protecting him from the elements, fighting off coyotes and eventually alerting people to his owner’s whereabouts — stuck in a muddy ditch, unable to move for two days in temperatures as cold as –17 C.

“I looked to my left where the individual who had been attacked was sitting in his vehicle, but his window was [rolled] up,” he said. “So I whistled again, and the shriek came again and said, ‘Help, I’m down here.'”

Weersink called for Hero to be taken under control, then walked over to where he heard the scream coming from to find the man lying on his back.

“The tall grass … it’s extremely tough to see someone in there,” said the police officer.

‘He really truly lives up to his name’

Police say Hero’s owner was able to tell them that his loyal companion stayed by his side and kept him warm as temperatures dropped, and may have even fought off coyotes.

The man was rescued and taken to the Chinook Regional Hospital in the nearby city of Lethbridge, Alta.

Emergency crews in Taber rescued a man who'd been in a ditch unable to move for two days.
Emergency crews in Taber, Alta., rescued the 61-year-old dog owner that was reportedly ‘lodged in mud up to his hips’ after police received reports of a dog attack in the area. (Submitted by Steve Swarbrick)

His dogs, Hero and another Akita named Tora, were taken in by the Taber’s Lost Paws Society while he recovered.

“[Hero] was obviously quite anxious, confused, but quite calm actually,” said Alana McPhee with the Lost Paws Society.

“He was involved in fighting because he was really just protecting his owner.… I guess you could say he really truly lives up to his name.”

Dog attack victim recovering

Curtis Dahl, the man whom Hero bit, told CBC News he went to the hospital for his injuries and his dog, Jack, was also treated.

Both are now recovering, but Dahl says he was understanding of the situation after hearing the full story.

“I think [Hero] thought my dog was a threat,” he said. “But once I thought about it, I knew why this dog did what he did.”

The Lost Paws Society has since launched a fundraising campaign for all of the pets involved that sustained injuries, as Tora also had a rod in a previously broken leg that had some screws come loose from likely “frantically running between the place her owner was trapped and her residence.”

McPhee says she can tell both dogs are looking forward to being reunited with his owner.

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