A two-and-a-half year old boy survived more than a day in the Yukon wilderness after following a dog that ended up saving his life.
The boy, known only as Kale, wandered from a campsite near Tay Creek Thursday evening, just outside of Ross River.
After an initial search by family members, RCMP were alerted and began a 25-hour search in the dense woods around the Canol Road.
Police dogs and a helicopter equipped with a heat-imaging radar scoured the wild, while rescue volunteers from Ross River and Whitehorse joined the cause.
At around 7 p.m., the helicopter spotted something west of the Canol Road.
A crew of seven volunteers led by an RCMP member searching nearby were radioed to head toward the sighting.
Ryan Martin, 37, was the first to find Kale.
“When we were running towards him and approaching him, I leaned over and said, ‘Hi Kale, we’ve been looking for you and we’re going to bring you back to your mommy and daddy,’” said Martin, an engineer in Whitehorse and volunteer with the Whitehorse District Search and Rescue.
But Kale had other things on his mind.
“He pointed over towards this dog and said ‘doggy, doggy,’” said Martin, who found Kale in moderately dense woods uphill from the road.
Kale had no obvious signs of dehydration or being cold.
“He wasn’t aware that he was lost and I don’t think two-and-half-year-olds have that awareness,” said Martin.
Kale didn’t seemed too concerned when he was being driven back to the rescue mission’s command centre, said Martin.
“He was pretty fascinated by the two police dogs in the back so he was pointing at them and saying, ‘doggy,’” said Martin.
Kale and his mother were reunited soon thereafter.
“It happened fairly quickly,” said Martin. “Everyone around was clapping and cheering and crying so it was pretty moving.”
The dog, named Koda, ran away after being startled by the search volunteers and was only retrieved after Kale was safe.
“I think that was probably more difficult,” said Martin, who said the dog was probably skittish because of porcupine quills in his face.
Martin credits the RCMP and the more experienced volunteers for the successful search.
“I’m just a cog in the wheel,” he said.
Kale was likely kept warm by Koda as temperatures dipped Thursday night.
Koda’s owners in Ross River gave the dog to Kale’s family after the search was over.
The family’s name, who are from Kamloops, British Columbia, has been withheld.
Contact James Munson at