On Jan. 10, 6-year-old Ryle Smith followed his family dogs into the woods near his home in Seneca, Mo.
When Ryle’s parents couldn’t find him they called local authorities for help.
"I was nervous because it was getting dark and some of the areas in the woods can be really dangerous," the boy’s father, Ryan Smith, told the Joplin Globe. "He was outside with the dogs, and we didn't see or hear from either of them."
Local police and search and rescue teams began their search for Ryle around 6 p.m., as temperatures dipped into the 20s. The boy was missing for more than four hours before he was found huddled in a ditch with the two dogs lying on top of him to keep him warm.
His clothes were torn and his shoes missing; but aside from some cuts, Ryle was unharmed.
His father credits the two dogs, Baxter, a boxer, and Bella, a mixed Labrador, with keeping his son warm and safe.
"They both were incredible in the way that they protected him," Mr. Smith said. "They wouldn't have left him for anything. You can't ask for more in a dog than that."