It is an amazing tale of survival.
Dog walker Annette Poitras spent more than two days lost in the backcountry of Eagle Mountain in Coquitlam with three dogs.
They were all rescued alive and safe Wednesday afternoon, and now more details are coming to light about how they survived the rain and the elements.
Here’s a picture of Annette Poitras in hospital, alongside her husband Marcel, that was sent to Global News on Thursday night:
Marcel, Annette’s husband, told Global News on Thursday that the dogs helped his wife stay alive.
“One of them was cuddling [her] and one of them was on guard and the other one was looking for food,” he said.
Annette was with a collie named Chloe, a boxer named Roxy and a puggle named Bubba. They didn’t leave her side, even though one of them initially wandered off when Annette fell and hurt herself.
But luckily, that dog came back and then all four of them stayed together until they were rescued.
Despite having no water or food, it appears the group took care of each other as best they could.
“[At] one point, the last night — when it was torrential rain — the short-haired boxer, [Roxy], was cold, so [Annette] took off one of her rain jackets to put over the boxer,” said Marcel. “To keep it warm.”
Annette also learned a survival tip from the dogs.
“She happened to notice one of the dogs was digging a hole to sleep in,” explained Marcel. “[The undergrowth], it’s very spongy, it soaks up a lot of water. So she started sweeping away all the brush and everything to get down into the dirt and kind of made herself a little well to sleep in. She learned from the dogs.”
“We can learn a lot of things from dogs.”
Annette will remain in hospital until at least Friday. She didn’t break any bones, but she is in quite a lot of pain and is not able to walk yet.
Marcel said his wife lost her cellphone when she fell around 5 p.m. on Monday.
She actually saw a rescue helicopter flying over her Monday night, but due to the dense brush and trees rescuers didn’t see her, even though she was waving her jacket.
So she knew she had to move.
“Her knees are all bruised from crawling through the dirt,” said Marcel.
“So she knew they were out there. She had no phone on her, she had no way of telling the time. She doesn’t have a watch she just uses her phone. Yesterday just before she was found, she didn’t know what time it was, [and] her thoughts were, ‘I’m spending another night out there.’ She had been positive at that point, [but] that was really starting to crush her.”
Almost 100 volunteer search and rescue members from across B.C. worked around the clock to find Annette and the three dogs and bring them home.
“The people that I communicated with [were] extremely professional [and] focused on what they’re doing,” said Marcel.
“You don’t want those guys being emotional, right? But they’re also very compassionate, and they would drop anything to give me an update, show me what was going on. Communications were great.
“The people in the field, it’s obvious [they] love what [they] do. You know I’m glad that we got the result that everybody is always looking for.”
“You know, these people are doing this on their own time. They’re leaving their job, what they get paid to do to pay their mortgage, to come out and help people that need the help. So you know what, support them. They deserve it.”
Marcel said that after his wife is released from hospital they are hoping things will get back to normal.
“Quiet, peace. Walking dogs. Visiting family,” he said. “[We’ve] got plans to go away for Christmas, had those for a while. We’re going to go to England to visit her father.”
“So that’ll be a great time and yeah, we’re just going to get back to normal.”
For more on the Coquitlam Search and Rescue team and how you can help them, check out their website.
-With files from Jordan Armstrong