This article originally appeared on VICE Canada.
Some survival stories have unexpected protagonists.
Obi, the small Newfoundland shih tzu who somehow survived a massive pileup on a highway and being stranded outside in a bitterly cold forest rampant with coyotes for five days last week, is one of them. Now I don’t know what the first thing you would think if you looked into his sweet lil’ black and white face, but it probably wouldn’t be “that dog’s a survivor.”
This three-year-old dog’s story starts with him riding in Tanya Cassell Pardy’s vehicle with her two sons when all of a sudden a storm hit and visibility went to shit. Cassell Pardy, who adopted Obi as a puppy three years ago, told VICE that out of nowhere they came across a pile of vehicles.
"Before I knew it, I had crashed into a transport truck,” Cassell Pardy said. “I turned around and was making sure my kids and dog were all OK when another vehicle crashed into me. It was at that point that I knew I had to get out before there was another crash and we get really hurt and stuck in this vehicle."
So the family, Obi included, left the vehicle. It was a good call, as it wasn't long until another transport truck slammed into their car. In all the chaos, Cassell Pardy was separated from her sons and dog. After gathering her sons and getting them to safety, she realized Obi was still missing, and through the pain of a broken foot she searched but couldn't find the lil’ fella.
Eventually, her father, who lived nearby, came and took the three to the hospital. The CBC reported that two people suffered serious injuries as a result of the pile-up. As they drove away, Cassell Pardy said she was certain she was leaving Obi behind forever in the vehicular carnage.
"I truly thought he had died in the crash," said Cassell Pardy. "We flew back to our home with very heavy hearts because we thought we were leaving him there."
Even when cops called her the next day to tell her they never found the body of her dog, Cassell Pardy assumed he was simply swept away by a snow plow. Still though, the cop told her to post something on social media in case the dog just ran away. She followed his advice, but didn’t get her hopes up.
"I did post online, but my intentions were just to get his body back, so we could get some closure from his death," said Cassell Pardy. "I never dreamed that in a million years he was still alive."
Even if he was alive after the crash, she thought there was no way he would survive the cold snap they just got. It was, as Cassell Pardy explained, "the coldest days we had all winter, that week. Not to mention the whole area is swarming with coyotes who would love to meet a little dog." The odds were stacked pretty darn strongly against the little pooch.
Fast forward a couple days, and sure enough Cassell Pardy's phone rang. It was a woman who was driving on the highway near the crash site and said she saw Obi on the side. Cassell Pardy told her husband Dean about the call and the two looked at each other, and within an hour he was on a plane to the area where Obi went missing.
"He got the last seat on that plane, went to Deer Lake," said Cassell Pardy. "Then Dean grabbed my Dad, two flashlights, and they searched and they searched and they called and they called and didn't see or hear anything."
After an hour, the two were ready to give up and decided they had one more search left in them before heading home for the night. Her husband got to a place where they saw some tracks that could have been Obi's and began searching.
"He called and whistled for Obi and stood there for a second," said Cassell Pardy. "Then he heard a little faint bark. Then he went closer, called, and heard another one. So that's how he edged his way toward him. When he got to him, he saw he was stuck in a pile of snow. He was covered in ice and snow, he was shivering, had lost weight and was very weak."
Her husband picked him up, carried him to the truck where a heaping helping of turkey bought just for this occasion was waiting. He ate it, collapsed, and was driven all the way home. After a brief but tearful reunion with the family, Obi was brought to a vet who, Cassell Pardy says, was "amazed” at how well he survived “despite everything he went through."
“He had to have found shelter out there, because it was bitterly cold out there, it was minus -25 [-13 degrees Fahrenheit], -30 [-22 degrees Fahrenheit], and he was there from Monday morning to Saturday night,” said Cassell Pardy.
“He’s a lot tougher than we thought he was.”
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