When Brittany Fintel felt her feet slip on the snow covering Mount St. Helens, she thought she was going to die. She tumbled over boulders and fell over 300 feet until finally coming to a stop near another steep cliff. She was hurt and in tremendous pain, but she was alive. She also had something else to be thankful for—her loyal service dog named Indy.
A Navy veteran, Fintel was traveling around the western U.S. with her dog and planned to summit Mount St. Helens, a 8,663-foot volcano. She and Indy started their climb early Saturday morning, but they never made it to the top. Partway up the trail, Fintel made the decision to leave the designated route to hike on the smooth snow her dog was more comfortable traversing. At around 10:30 a.m., her foot slipped.
Fintel said in an interview with KATU,
“The moment I slipped, I literally thought I was dead. I was just expecting that this was the end.”
When Indy saw his owner fall down the mountain, he didn’t hesitate. He ran down after her and made it safely to her side. Fintel says Indy was her first responder as he licked the blood on her hands and laid beside her.
Thankfully, Indy wasn’t the only one who saw Fintel’s fall. A group of 10 hikers also saw what happened, and they soon followed Indy back down the mountain. One of the hikers was a nurse, and a search and rescue volunteer also came to help assess Fintel’s injuries and call for help.
It took five hours for a Coast Guard rescue helicopter to make it to the scene, but in all that time, Indy never left his owner’s side. He made sure she wasn’t in shock and provided much needed comfort to calm Fintel’s nerves and distract her from pain. When the rescue helicopter arrived, everyone worked together to get the injured hiker off the mountain. She was taken to Oregon Health and Science University Hospital where she was diagnosed with a broken hip, concussion, and several deep lacerations. After falling over 300 feet onto boulders below, she’s lucky to be alive.
It will be several days until Fintel is ready to leave the hospital, but Indy still hasn’t left her side. He sleeps at the foot of her hospital bed and has shown true loyalty throughout the entire ordeal. She says she wishes she had been better prepared before she headed up the mountain, but she’s grateful for her dog that genuinely cares about her well-being.
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