A FAMILY dog named Blue is being credited with keeping a three-year-old girl alive after she was lost in the freezing northern Arizona wilderness.
The toddler, Victoria Bensch, was reunited with her parents after being found by rescue teams early Friday morning with Blue curled up next to her, MyFox Phoenix reported.
During her night alone the temperature dropped to just 30-degrees Fahrenheit (-1 degC), and the little girl was not wearing any shoes.
Yavapai County Sheriff's Office spokesman Dwight D'Evelyn credited the Queensland Heeler with keeping Victoria alive, and doctors agreed she was extremely lucky to have survived the freezing temperatures.
A Department of Public Safety (DPS) helicopter crew found the little girl and her dog three-quarters of a mile from her Cordes Lakes home, 57km east of Prescott in Arizona's high country.
DPS paramedic Eric Tarr said the girl was facedown in the wash - and that if it wasn't for her dog, they might not have seen her.
"I kneeled down next to her and told her 'I'm going to take you to your mommy.' She smiled at me and put her arms up," said Tarr.
"She was already pretty cold by the time we got to her and it was good the dog was with her," said DPS pilot Matt Uhl.
"You could see the dog's expression almost turn into a smile. It came and jumped into the helicopter no problem at all."
Victoria was flown to Phoenix Children's Hospital for frostbite treatment and swollen feet and was expected to spend the night in the hospital as a precaution.