Missing St. Bernard survived weeks of frigid cold in Minnesota woods

At 10 years old, a St. Bernard named Old Lady is proving her age is just a number. 

“Her drive, her fight-or-flight response kicked in and she was able to stay alive through those frigid temps,” said Azure Davis, the founder and executive director at Ruff Start Rescue.

Even before Old Lady's two-and-a-half week stay in the wilderness near Princeton, Minnesota, the folks at Ruff Start Rescue say the dog already had a rough life. 

“She came from a puppy mill in Wisconsin where she was used strictly for breeding with over 500 dogs on the property,” said Davis.

So when Old Lady arrived at the rescue earlier this month, the sweet, but timid St. Bernard was skittish. 

“She got out of the car to go into her foster's home and right at that time, as she got out, the noise from the crunching snow freaked her out and it scared her and she started running down the driveway,” said Davis.

Immediately, the search began. Flyers were posted, search parties were formed. The team made calls to law enforcement and even set up feeding stations, hoping the St. Bernard might come looking for food. 

There had been a handful of sightings, but with temperatures dropping, time was running out. 

“All I could think about was, ‘Oh my gosh, this poor dog, she's out there somewhere. I hope she's found shelter,’” said Davis. “And the sad part about it is, she didn't.”

On Monday, two and a half weeks after she went missing, a grandfather and his grandsons spotted Old Lady in the woods. Her leash was caught on a branch and she was tangled up and stuck. 

The team carefully got her out before getting her to water and warmth. 

A bit slow, malnourished, thirsty and frostbitten, Old Lady is making her comeback. Her story just might help other pet owners too. 

“Keep looking, keep spreading awareness because she was missing for over a week with no sightings,” said Davis. “How does a St. Bernard not get seen for a week? So whether they're stuck, or they're hiding just don't give up hope.”

One of the women who helped with the rescue has experience with fearful dogs just like Old Lady and St. Bernards in particular. The two already have a special bond and the hope is that once Old Lady has fully recovered, that's where she'll find a home.