• Forecast
  • News Tip
  • Categories
News Alert: DIRECTV Customers: Tell DIRECTV to bring back KTVA - Call 800-531-5000. - Read More
Temperature Precipitation
Estimated read time
3m 3s

Man says he owes his dog his life

By KTVA Alaska 8:12 PM March 4, 2014

Otis Orth took his dog for a snowmachine ride in Trapper Creek when a shallow patch of ice threw him from his machine

ANCHORAGE – It’s commonly said that a dog is a man’s best friend, but one Alaska man’s dog has proven to be much more after refusing to leave side of its owner after a snowmachine accident.

Otis Orth, 52, is recovering at Providence Alaska Medical Center after spending 28 hours injured and freezing on a rural Alaska trail.

Orth’s face is covered with snow burn, he can’t move his arm or neck and his foot, while no longer blackened by frostbite, is still at risk of amputation. Yet, Orth says he’s thank thankful in his hospital bed.

“I owe that dog my life,” Orth said.

That dog that Orth says saved his life is his golden retriever named Amber.

He took Amber along for a snowmachine ride in Trapper Creek on Sunday afternoon, he says, when a shallow patch of ice threw him from his machine.

“I’m just kind of sliding across this really hard pack snow, starts out 15, 20 feet on my face then the rest of it is like being in a dryer,” Orth recalls.

Orth was left injured and unable to move. Hours passed, night began to fall and Orth’s backcountry know-how kicked in.

“When you get hypothermia you have a tendency to think you’re warm and lay down and go to sleep and once you do that you’re done for,” Orth said. “That night I laid there and watched shooting stars, the big dipper and satellites zooming across. There wasn’t much I could do that night but stay warm.”

Alaska State Troopers Search and Rescue Coordinator Lt. Steven Adams says everyone that ventures into Alaska’s rural areas should always prepare for the worst.

“Everybody venturing out into the woods should be prepared to spend at least one night,” Adams said. “We have a good network of search and rescue in the state … because the state is so immense it takes a lot of time to find people.”

Adams says necessities like, “warm clothing, food, water, some sort of communication device, some sort of signaling device,” can mean the difference between life and death. Orth had none of those things. But he did have Amber who kept Orth warm enough to make it to the next morning, in spite of temperatures reaching 14 below freezing.

“She’s laying right there with me with her head in her paws on my stomach and her belly turned in towards my right arm there,” Orth said. “I could feel her body heat and we were both shivering.”

When Monday afternoon rolled around, the distant sound of snow machines offered Orth a sliver of hope. Still immobile, Orth sent his 2-year-old rescue dog Amber toward the noise to begin his own rescue.

“I got her all hyped up and sent her out there. I said, ‘Go get ‘em, go see what they’re doing,'” Orth said. “I sent the dog back over there and I heard one of the brothers tell the other one, ‘There’s something wrong. That dog’s not following us it’s trying to get us to follow her.'”

Sure enough, two men on snowmachines, guided by Amber, found Orth in the same frozen spot he’d spent the last 26 hours.

“I owe that dog my life,” he said. “If I had to stay there one more night I wouldn’t have made it. At the time, I couldn’t let myself think that. It was there in the back of my mind but you still gotta do what you can.”

Doctors say Orth is expected to make a full recovery, but could still lose a toe or two to frostbite.

The Department of Public Safety is offering free backcountry safety awareness classes from now until June 1.

Latest Stories

  • News

    Inside the Gates: Military family posts daily vlogs

    by Bonney Bowman on Feb 24, 23:36

    One Alaska family is making reality TV a real life part of their daily routine. The Cassells, a military family stationed at Fort Wainwright, post daily video blogs, or vlogs, on YouTube. “The first year I was like, extremely nervous,” said mom and U.S. Army wife Kiara Cassell. Her days usually start with coffee, cooking […]

  • ‘I’m going to protect what I got’: Elderly Fairview man robbed 3 times in a month

    by Eric Ruble on Feb 24, 23:24

    A 71-year-old Fairview man said thieves robbed him at his home three times between Jan. 19 and Feb. 20. Lee Perkins has lived in an apartment on Karluk Street for about one year. He said during the first incident, a man knocked on his door asking for a cigarette. When Perkins turned around, the man […]

  • Politics

    Cook Inlet conservation corridor debated at Board of Fisheries meeting

    by Shannon Ballard on Feb 24, 19:51

    It takes fish to make fish and that has members of the Matanuska-Susitna Borough’s Fish and Wildlife Commission worried. On Friday morning, commission members brought their concerns to the Board of Fisheries. They want to ensure that the Cook Inlet conservation corridor, established back in 2014, remains in place. The corridor restricts some commercial fishing in […]

  • News

    Fur Rondy provides winter fun for locals and visitors

    by Heather Hintze on Feb 24, 19:38

    Are you ready to Rondy? The 2017 Fur Rendezvous winter festival kicked off Friday afternoon. Many who live in Alaska don’t find it unusual to take a Ferris wheel ride in the freezing cold, or run with reindeer through the streets of Anchorage. For people in the Lower 48, Fur Rondy is a chance to see […]

  • Body cam shows use of deadly force by Fairbanks officer, no criminal charges filed

    by Sierra Starks on Feb 24, 18:40

    In an unprecedented move, the Fairbanks Police Department have released body camera footage of an August 2016 incident during which a sergeant shot and killed an armed man. James Robert Richards, 28, was shot twice in the head after assaulting two people at the Alaska Motel and leading police on a chase through downtown Fairbanks, according to the […]

  • News

    Half a million Little Tikes swings recalled following reports of injuries

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Feb 24, 16:11

    More than half a million Little Tikes swings have been recalled after a number of injuries were reported, according to a notice on the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s (CPSC) website. The recall notice states that Little Tikes has received more than 140 reports of the 2-in-1 Snug’n Secure pink toddler swings breaking. Of those […]

  • Politics

    Dozens demand town hall meeting with Sen. Sullivan during annual address to lawmakers

    by Liz Raines on Feb 24, 15:25

    A group of about 50 people gathered in front of the state capitol building in Juneau to demand a town hall meeting with Alaska Sen. Dan Sullivan Friday afternoon. Sullivan was in Juneau to deliver an annual address to lawmakers on his work in Congress. In his speech, the Republican senator did not reference the […]

  • News

    Addicts using pets to score drugs, veterinarians warn

    by Jennifer Earl / CBS News on Feb 24, 15:18

    As animal lovers, veterinarians pride themselves on being trusting and caring people. They don’t want to believe anyone would intentionally hurt their pet, but in recent years, they’ve had to train themselves to look out for those who do just that as drug addicts turn toward animals to score pain medication they can’t easily access. […]