Two family dogs are being credited with keeping a 6-year-old warm and safe after the boy went missing in the woods for over five hours near his home in Seneca, Missouri.
Ryle Smith was playing outside his home on Friday afternoon when he followed after his two dogs, Baxter and Bella into the woods. When it began to get dark, Ryle became disoriented and lost.
Ryle's father Ryan and mother Holly called police for help at 6 pm after they could not find their son. "I was nervous because it was getting dark and some of the area in the woods can be really dangerous," he told the Joplin Globe. "He was outside with the dogs, and we didn't see or hear from either of them."
Emergency rescue teams from fire departments and Sheriff's departments in Newton County arrived to search for the boy. Rescuers combed the area and found Ryle huddled in a ditch with the two family dogs lying on top of him to keep him warm. Temperatures had dropped into the low 20s (below zero celcius) by the time they found him.
Ryan said their two dogs, Baxter, a large Boxer who has been with the family for 10 years, and Bella, a mixed Labrador Retriever who is new to the family, protected Ryle when he was lost.
"They both were incredible in the way that they protected him," Ryan said. "They wouldn't have left him for anything. You can't ask for more in a dog than that."
The family was also extremely thankful for the number of people who came out to help and the speed in which they arrived. "It amazes me how quick everyone came out to look for my son," he said. "An hour after word got out, you couldn't get anywhere close to the driveway. I still haven't got to meet the men who actually found Ryle, but I just want them to know how thankful we are."
Ryle was taken to hospital and will be all right. Of his ordeal Ryle said, "I wasn’t scared, I was just really cold. Bella was my guard dog and Baxter was next to me the whole time."
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