She was not doing well. She had eaten and she was dehydrated. She had gotten herself injured and she was freezing cold, all while trapped in the Canadian wilderness. She was weak and tired and at this point, she thought that things couldn’t get any worse than they already were. But that was when she saw a sudden flash of lighting as rain started pouring down on her.
She frowned as she looked around herself. She spotted her faithful border collie and took a step closer to her, noticing that she was digging a hole. That was when she realized that her dog was doing something that could save their lives.
Annette Poitras was a retired woman from British Columbia. But she still had a lot to live for like her amazing husband and daughter. Annette was well liked in her community. She loved being in nature and once she had retired, she started a dog-walking business. It was great, she got to do what she loved while making a few extra dollars each month.
But she never could have guessed that the trains around Coquitlam’s Eagle Mountain that she knew like the back of her hand, would one day turn on her.
It was the 20th of November, 2017 and Annette decided to go on a walk with her two beloved dog, Bubba, who was a pug-poodle mix, and Roxy, a boxer.
Chloe, her border collie, came along on the relaxing walk, too. They were going to walk in the wilderness around Eagle Mountain. Annette didn’t know how lucky she was to have chosen this specific place.
There was nothing special about this walk, Annette and the dogs were walking their usual path along the park trails which was only ten-minutes from their home.
Annette took a deep breath of the fresh air surrounding her as she watched her companions sniffle through the leaves, happily wagging their tails. But all calm was destroyed when Bubba’s ears suddenly pricked straight up. Bubba was about to make a fatal mistake.
Bubba had noticed something just off the path and decided to sprint off, away from the group. Annette called for him to come back, but she was too late and he was long gone. The only option was for her to chase after him, so she did.
But as she ran, Annette slipped on some soggy rocks. She immediately felt the impact as pain through her back and head. But that was all she could remember as the green of the trees turned black before her eyes
When she woke up again, she squinted groggily as she looked up at the three pairs of eyes staring right back at her. She couldn’t tell how long she had been unconscious. It could have been seconds, minutes or even hours.
She clutched at her aching head before digging around for her cell phone. She wanted to call for help, but she soon discovered that her phone was missing. She tried to get up, but a sharp pain shot from her armpit to her calf. She didn’t think it was possible for her to get up. She had had a pretty nasty fall.
Eventually, she got up dizzily and supported herself against a tree as she took note of her many different injuries. She felt intense pain in her chest and wondered if she had cracked a rob. She rounded her dogs up and slowly made her way back to the trail, carefully limping along.
She knew she had to get home and get her injuries examined, but things were just getting started and were about to unravel even more. It suddenly started to rain, which made the path too hazardous for Annette and the dogs to walk back on.
Annette had to accept that she was now stuck. She couldn’t take the risk and walk back up the trail while it was raining this hard. She was already injured and there was no way for her to contact for help in case things got even worse along the way.
She decided to stay put, close to where she had fallen. It was already getting later, and it was starting to become evening. A bone-chilling winter cold came in with the setting sun and she had no choice but to stay where she was. But by this point, her husband was aware that she was missing and he was nearly at his wits’ end.
Her husband, Marcel, knew that something had to be wrong when he noticed how long she had been gone. It wasn’t like her to stay out into the evening. He tried calling her phone, but there was no answer.
As night time approached, Marcel knew the smart thing to do was to call the authorities, so he did. He was relieved when Coquitlam Search and Rescue and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police immediately stepped in to help. But time wasn’t on their side this time.
He told authorities that he saw Annette and the dogs just before Bubba took off while he was taking a smoke break at his car. They were relieved to now how a trail that they could follow. But soon, they would discover that Annette wasn’t there anymore.
After the first night in the wilderness, Annette noticed that she was missing a dog again. She summoned all her energy to hobble over the treacherous terrain with Chloe and Roxy in tow.
Luckily, she went in the right direction and found the dog near some power lines. Unluckily, she was now well and truly lost. And it was getting dark.
Despite the search party having all-terrain vehicles, over 100 people, and helicopters at their disposal, Annette was still nowhere to be found.
They knew that, by now, Annette was starving, dehydrated, and struggling to keep her strength up. But what they didn’t know was that Annette was about to receive some unlikely but lifesaving help.
As Annette lay there injured, starving, and freezing in the relentless rain, she idly glanced over at Chloe, her border collie.
Chloe was digging a hole in the spongy moss on the forest floor. At first, Annette didn’t think too much of it. But then it dawned on her that her dog had just shown her an invaluable trick.
Chloe was cleverly digging a hole to sleep in! Annette decided to follow suit. She cleared a patch of ground and dug herself a shelter to sleep in.
Although Chloe may not have known it, she had just saved her owner’s life. By climbing into the hole in the ground, Annette was able to stay warm and relatively dry. And thankfully, help was near.
After searching for Annette for three days, the search party was growing desperate. They decided to conduct a “sound sweep” of the area by walking abreast, whistling and calling for Annette.
“At the end of one of those segments, [a search party] heard [Annette] replying and they heard the dogs barking joyfully. She was very chatty and very happy to see the searchers, but very wet and in a lot of stress from being out in the cold that long,” Michael Coyle, who headed the search party, explained.