BRAINERD, Minn. (AP) — The Mississippi River almost ruined Christmas for Steve and Kathy Olsen in rural Brainerd.
The couple's two dogs ran off about a week and a half ago, and the Olsens spent that day searching the nearby woods, according to the Brainerd Dispatch (http://bit.ly/JOOHXg ).
"Our boys are gone," Kathy Olsen said about her grown sons. "These dogs (Walker and Sam) are like kids to us."
She and her husband searched the woods and she told neighbor John Carlson about the dogs. Carlson immediately began helping and soon spotted tracks leading to the river.
After an hour or so, Sam, a yellow Lab, returned soaking wet. Kathy Olsen knew something was wrong because the two dogs always ran together.
About three hours later, Carson spotted Walker, their 8-year-old cinnamon Lab, struggling to stay afloat in the frigid river.
"All that was showing was his nose and eyes," Kathy Olsen said.
Carlson fashioned a bridge-like connection with some dead wood and the exhausted dog was able to return to shore, Kathy Olsen said.
Initially, the Olsens and Carlson didn't think the lethargic Walker would survive. He was taken to a local animal hospital where he was treated for hypothermia, Kathy Olsen said.
Both dogs are now doing fine, and the Olsens credit Carlson for saving his life.
"I didn't think he'd make it," Kathy Olsen said. "I just feel it's a Christmas miracle."
Information from: The Daily Dispatch, http://www.brainerddispatch.com