Things didn’t look good for Amelia Milling.
The 21-year-old woman, who is deaf, had set out June 19 on a three-day solo hike in Chugach State Park, about 30 miles south of Anchorage, Alaska, reported ABC News. Four miles into the trek, her hiking poles snapped, sending Milling 300 feet down the mountain.
“I felt like I was flying,” she told The Anchorage Daily News.
Milling bounced off a boulder and slid an additional 400 feet down the snowy slope before coming to a stop, according to ABC News. Then she spotted a strange dog watching her.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Sacramento Bee
"That's when I first saw Nanook and first I thought he was a wolf," Milling told ABC News. "Then I saw the little collar and realized he was there to help me."
Nanook, a husky who lives at the trailhead with his owner, led Milling back to the trail and stayed with her through the night, according to the network.
"When I opened up the tent, he was ready to go,” Milling, a Tennessee native and Rochester Institute of Technology student in New York, told ABC News. “He was just right there and that helped me to have some motivation to keep going."
Milling later tried to cross the Eagle River but slipped and fell in the strong current, reported KTVA. Nanook pulled her from the freezing water by her backpack straps, Milling said. Fearing the onset of hypothermia, she curled up in her sleeping bag.
She'd intended to wait awhile and see how she felt, but Nanook kept licking her face until she activated her emergency locator, Milling told The Anchorage Daily News. Then he curled up to wait for help with her.
Alaska State Troopers aboard a rescue helicopter landed to pick up Nanook and Milling, who recounted her harrowing tale to troopers in a notebook, reported KTVA.
“Nookie was nothing short of a modern-day Lassie hero,” Alaska State Trooper Lt. Eric Olsen told KTVA.
Olson personally returned Nanook to owner Scott Swift, who told The Anchorage Daily News that Nanook routinely sets off on his own into the state park to accompany hikers.
"He's been doing it for years now," Smith told the publication about Nanook, who has no formal search-and-rescue training. "He just does it on his own.”
Nanook had previously pulled a young girl from the same river, Smith told The Anchorage Daily news.
Sharon Milling, Amelia Milling’s mother, told The Rochester Democrat & Chronicle that she was in “sheer terror” when her daughter’s GPS tracker activated showing her location in a river. She didn’t know until Alaska State Troopers rescued Amelia that she’d had a protector in Nanook.
“Personally, I believe God placed him there to protect her,” Sharon Milling, who lives in Chattanooga, Tennessee, told the publication.