'He gave me the motivation to get up:' Woman recounts rescue by Nanook the husky
Amelia Milling, a deaf college student, ran into trouble while hiking in Alaska
The first thing that went through 21-year-old Amelia Milling's mind when she landed — bleeding and bruised — on a grassy patch in Chugach State Park was that her dream vacation was over.
Milling, a deaf college student from Tennessee, was on vacation, hiking the Crow Pass Trail in Alaska alone. Her hiking poles had broken and a wrong step launched her 100 metres down a hill where she crashed into a large boulder.
The impact launched her another 100 metres down the hill.
"I felt like I was flying," she told CBC via Facebook messenger.
Then, Milling said, a white dog appeared.
"He showed up suddenly out of nowhere. I thought he was a wolf at first until I saw the bone tag."
The dog was wearing a silver bone-shaped tag that read "Crow Pass Guide, Return to ..." with his owner's address.
For the next day and a half, the seven-year-old husky, who Milling would later learn was named Nanook or "Nookie," wouldn't leave her side.
"He gave me the motivation to get up and walk another seven miles," Milling said.
"If he didn't show up, I probably wouldn't have gotten back up and kept walking that much."
Nookie led Milling back to the trail and they continued to hike together until nightfall. She set up her tent and invited Nookie inside, but she said the dog preferred to stay outside of the small one-person tent.
"I realized he really was sticking with me when he greeted me in the morning when I unzipped my tent. He had stayed the entire night next to me."
Milling and Nookie continued on the trail until the pair came to the Eagle River crossing, a freezing, fast-moving river fed by a glacier.
"I attempted to cross it twice with no success. On the second time, I fell and the water really pulled me," Milling said.
"I was stuck in the water for more than 15 minutes until Nookie bit my backpack and pulled. I pushed and he pulled."
Then, hypothermic and dazed on the riverbank, Milling pressed the SOS button on her Spot Device. That alerted the Alaska State Troopers, and sent a message to Milling's mother and sister in Tennessee.
Nookie and Millie stayed on the side of that river for several hours until troopers in a helicopter spotted her wrapped in a red sleeping bag with Nookie curled up beside her.
She was sent to Anchorage to be checked out at a medical centre.
Meanwhile, Nookie was brought to his home outside of Anchorage by the state trooper that rescued him.
"I was definitely pretty floored. It sends chills up my spine when I think about it. I certainly didn't train him to do anything like this," Nookie's owner Scott Swift told CBC.
"It's a pretty powerful feeling that this dog had this instinctual ability to want to go help people."
Swift said Nookie is a bit of free spirit. He disappears for days at a time and is often returned home by hikers or skiers who meet and travel with him along the trail.
Milling credits the dog with saving her life. She is now recovering from her ordeal and continuing her vacation in Alaska.
Milling has also been spending time with Nookie and Swift. He said the dog is now being spoiled with lots of treats.
Nookie's also been named an honourary Alaska State Trooper for his heroic efforts. He continues to take solo adventures on the Crow Pass Trail.
"With a free spirit like that ... I feel like I'd be keeping him in jail if I kept him tied up," Swift said.
But don't worry, Nookie now carries a GPS beacon on his collar, just in case he decides to be a hero again.