A dog named Cooper is being credited with helping save his young owner after the toddler went missing on Monday night -- offering a remarkable example of the loyal bond between a boy and his pet.
When Courtney Urness realized that her 3-year-old son Carson had wandered away from their family farm in rural Cooperstown, North Dakota and was nowhere to be seen, she panicked and called 911 -- not yet realizing that although he was gone, he had taken along a friend.
As darkness fell and a thunderstorm brewed overhead, hundreds of volunteers, firefighters, and a search plane turned out to scour the area for the lost child who risked exposure in the chilly, wet night.
"I lost it I guess you could say," says Courtney to news station WDAZ. "Yeah, it was hard."
Six long hours after Carson disappeared, the search party was finally able to track him down. Rescuers say he was found a mile away from home, safe and sound -- thanks in no small part to Cooper the dog, who was seen lying on top of him, shielding the him from the rain and cold.
Courtney says that Cooper had always been a good pet, but she never could have guessed that he'd be so helpful when her son needed it the most.
"I just didn't realize that he would actually be keeping him warm and protecting him," she says, relieved. "[Carson] came up to me today and he goes ‘Mom I was really scared, but Cooper laid on me. He kept me warm.'"
Cooper's actions that day may be his way of giving back. The Urness family says that they discovered the dog as a puppy abandoned in the road years earlier and decided to make him their pet.