Three-year-old Victoria Bensch of Corder Lakes, Arizona, was playing outside her home on a late February afternoon when she disappeared. One of the family’s dogs, Blue, was also missing. Authorities weren’t sure if she wandered off looking for the dog or if the two were even together, but since there were no signs of foul play, police assumed that the girl was merely lost.
As night set in and temperatures dipped into the low thirties, authorities launched a land and air search. Their efforts turned up no sign of the tot, and worries began to emerge about whether she would ever be found alive. In Arizona, a number of small children before her have lost their lives in this exact same manner, after wandering off and succumbing to the elements. The search continued throughout the night.
Morning arrived, and after searching for about 15 hours, rescuers spotted little Victoria, lying shoeless on the ground, with her dog Blue cuddling up beside her to keep her warm. She was only about a half mile from her house. At first, Blue was wary and
protective, barking and growling at rescuers. But when he figured out they were there to help, his demeanor changed. “He was very excited,” said rescue pilot Mathew Uhl. “He ran around while the
medic tended to the little girl and when it was time to go, he jumped right into the helicopter.”
Little Victoria was hypothermic, her feet were swollen, and she had several bumps and bruises, but otherwise was OK. Doctors kept the girl overnight at Phoenix Children’s Hospital for observation, but she was expected to be just fine.
Authorities believe that the family dog Blue, a Queensland Heeler, saved the preschoolers life. By staying at her side throughout the night, he likely kept her from freezing to death in the wilderness. His presence also probably kept any predators that were out there at bay. The area is home to coyotes,
mountain lions, and other large predators. One hopes that Blue was awarded an extra treat or two for his life-saving loyalty to the child.