A dog protected a missing boy from a thunderstorm early Tuesday morning, shielding the 3-year-old from the elements near the child's home in Cooperstown, North Dakota.
Carson Urness went missing at about 7:30 p.m. local time Monday night. The 3-year-old wandered away from his family’s 10-plus acre property while his mother was inside watching the couple’s 11-month-old daughter.
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"She looked around frantically for about 30 minutes and then called me," the boy's father, Brock Urness, told ABC News
. "And I said, 'Well, where’s Cooper?' and she said, 'Cooper is not here either.'"
Cooper is the family's German shepherd-Golden retriever mix who was adopted three years ago by the family after he had been found abandoned on the side of the road near a relative’s house.
"You think of the worst, but then I knew Cooper was gone. If anyone was going to find him, they'd just have to find Cooper," the boy's Courtney Urness told WDAY-TV
After spending an hour searching the surrounding area for the missing boy, the Urnesses called 911 and was joined by local police, a fire department airplane, and some 200 neighbors in the tight-knit North Dakota community which consists of some 800 residents.
Despite the joint effort, authorities were unable to locate the boy on the 2,000 acres of land surrounding the house and due to weather conditions and sent home those who were searching on foot at about 2:00 a.m.
"As the night went on, there got to be a little more moisture in the air. And at about two in the morning, the rain was coming down and we were at the point to send the foot walkers home and there’s nothing more for them to do," Cooperstown Sheriff Robert Hook told News Channel 4 KFOR-TV
According to the missing boy's father, police sent out one more four-wheeler at about 2:30 a.m. to take a final sweep of the property, which is when they discovered Carson Urness in a patch of tall grass with his faithful dog lying over him, shielding the child from the storm.
"The child was laying underneath the dog, he thought he was probably sleeping," Sheriff Hook added.
Cooper reportedly followed close behind the four-wheeler as it drove back to the house. According to Brock Urness, Cooper was trained to never leave the yard. However, the dog most likely followed the boy as he walked off into the property to protect him.
"Carson told his mom that Cooper stayed on top of him and kept him safe and warm," Brock Urness added. "He told her that he was a little scared when it got dark because he doesn’t like the dark."
After being examined by a doctor at the scene, Carson was found to be in perfect health, except for having cold feet. His loyal dog was also in perfect health.
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