Dogs deserve more credit for their intelligence. Renowned for their loyalty, people have brought pooches into their homes for thousands of years. A close kinship between man and dog has spawned the expression: “Dog is man’s best friend.”
All of these qualities were on full display in Panola County, Mississippi, in 2012 when a little boy went missing.
A rural town, Batesville isn’t a good place for a 2-year old to go missing. There are woods for miles, and if a child were to wander away far enough on his or her own, it would spell disaster. Imagine the horror when the Ridgeway family realized that their 2-year old son Colby had wandered away from the home.
Barry Ridgeway, Colby’s grandfather, told a local news reporter that the only thing that gave him any comfort was the fact that their loyal pit bull, Sugar, was also gone.
The toddler was missing but so was the family’s pit bull dog Sugar.
“She stays with him anywhere. I knew that’s where she was because she wouldn’t come when I called,” Barry said.
The family initially believed that the child had been kidnapped. But once they realized Sugar was nowhere on their property, they realized that probably wasn’t the case.
Barry was still worried about his grandson, but it did give him comfort knowing that he wasn’t alone.
Sugar was very attached to the boy, and his grandfather had no doubt that she would be doing everything in her power to keep the toddler safe.
“That was the one hope: it was her. Because as long as she was gone, she was with him,” Barry said. “That means no one had got him, you know, we have a chance to find him. And that’s all that kept me going.”
A search team of nearly 300 people was quickly assembled, and they began combing the thickets and ravines surrounding the property for Colby. The search lasted over two hours, and the family grew to fear the worst as time continued to pass.
Then, suddenly, a father and son team who were part of the search party heard a dog barking.
They followed the barking, and found Sugar on a little-traveled dirt road.
The dog was pacing back and forth, trying to get someone’s attention. When they started to follow her, she took off and led them straight to Colby.
“She was running up to the road and back down to the spot he was at,” said Barry.
The search team found Colby. He was cold, dirty, hungry, and crying, but he was alive. He’d fallen into a ditch next to the road that the search team would have never noticed if it weren’t for Sugar. She saved his life.
They wrapped Colby in a blanket and took him back to his house. His panic-stricken mother met the rescue team there, relieved after an afternoon of fearing the unfathomable.
“Probably the worst day of my life,” Colby’s mother said.
But she couldn’t help but feel grateful to the community who dropped everything it was doing to help her find her son. And of course, she felt indebted to Sugar, the pup who kept her boy safe and alerted the rescue team when they drew near.
“She is going to be eating deer steak for quite a while,” Barry said. “She earned it.”