In what can only be described as a heroic act, a mix shepherd dog managed to save his owner’s life by digging him out of his tent after it was hit and buried deep in snow by an overnight snow slide.
Last month Freddy and his dog Eno went on a snow caving trip to Qurnat Es Sawda in Bsharri mountains region which is the highest point in Lebanon and the Levant. As a frequent hiker and camper as well as owner of the camping shop Camping Without Borders in Zouk Mosbeh, Freddy and his dog Eno already had many great experiences in every kind of outdoor adventures.
They arrive to the spot on Friday noon expecting to be joined by their friends on Sunday. Since Freddy and Eno took a Snowmobile ride up there, one of his friends asked him to take his tent and sleeping bag with him and he agreed to remove some weight off of his friend’s back.
Upon arrival Friday afternoon it is clear that there isn’t enough snow to dig a snow cave, therefore Freddy sets up his tent below a ridge. They spent Saturday relaxing, hiking around the area, having steaks for dinner, some wine – quite a perfect camping trip.
Sunday morning Freddy wakes up by the sound of some jeeps driving on the snowy ridge above the tent, taking some pictures of what must have looked like a beautiful campsite. Around that time, Freddy hears a crack but decided against moving the tent as he is comfortable and the amount of snow on the ridge is very little.
Sunday afternoon however several unfortunate events start to take their course: It starts with a blizzard! Every half an hour half a meter of snow falls and Freddy finds himself struggling to clear the area around his tent from the masses of snow while heavy wind is smashing against the tent like waves from both sides. In the rift of the wind, moving the snow is a Sisyphus task. Around 11pm Freddy goes to sleep exhausted with Eno by his feet in the midst of the blizzard.
Around 2am he wakes up from the sound of the tents poles breaking. He immediately notices a weight on his body that makes getting up impossible. The only body parts he can move are his hand and his head rested upon it with only a small room to move and breathe around his upper half. The shovel and his boots lie next to him. The tents door is above his chest! He manages to open the zipper. He hears Eno crying in fear, out of his reach but remains silent to not make him come closer because he thinks it might worsen the situation. Next thing Freddy hears is Eno panicking and biting the tent on his side to get out – he succeeds. He then calls for him but Eno vanishes for 10-15 minutes before he finally returns. And then it happens: Eno, prompted by his owners calls, steps on the top of the snow covered and starts digging until he reached his owner, who then can free himself with the help of his shovel.
Only dressed in a base layer, boots and a shovel Freddy is now outside in the middle of the storm. The tent is destroyed, his gear and food inside under a big layer of snow. Fortunately his friends tent as well as sleeping bag are among the gear that he manages to fetch them along with a six pack of Pepsi from beneath the snow, using only his socks as gloves.
Putting up a tent in the middle of a storm is quite the task – but he succeeds after a while, he and Eno cuddle inside to warm up and rest. His phone is with him but there is no reception unless he walks up a neighboring hill but he is too cold and exhausted for that and prefers to wait until the storm calms down.
Well, it doesn’t – until Wednesday morning and they end up staying inside the tent for two days. Worried the tent might rip from the heavy wind and occasional blizzards, especially because the ropes aren’t tied, Freddy distributes the weight meticulously to create a balance while rocking back and forth inside the tent. He keeps Eno close to him to stay warm but has to open the door for him every few hours to go pee.
On Tuesday morning the storm took a break and Freddy is able to call his friend for help. After a few hours the Lebanese Army Mountain Commando starts to look for them but as the storm had picked up again they weren’t able to make it to the peak of the mountain. They tried again at night and Freddy even hears gun shots as close as 70 meters to him but no matter how loud he shouted or eno barked the intensity of the wind made it impossible for them to be heard.
He stays another night in the tent until the next morning; finally, the storm comes to an end around 4 am. When he looks out and see the northern star, he looked at his dog, saying “Eno, we made it!”
When the sky had cleared, while finally leaving the tent, he sees two people from Bcharre approaching him on a snowmobile. The day doesn’t end there, they still have to dig out the first tent and recover the gear underneath the avalanche, but the relief must have been tremendous.
Freddy is thankful for all efforts to save him, especially for the Lebanese Army to putting their live at risk, trying to rescue him in the peak of the storm. I was asked to emphasize that his dog Eno was able to do this heroic task not only because of the strong bond they share but also because he is accustomed to snow and storms from a very young age. Additionally, he is a passionate digger and was trained by his owner to find treats and bones among other treasures hidden for him in the snow.
So if you’re thinking “would my dog save me in an avalanche?” Probably not. But he might in many other situations and, let’s be honest; do you have the guts to go camp at the highest peak of the Levant in the middle of winter by yourself? Exactly.