‘That’s what saved my life was that dog’: Man survives three days in the woods thanks to his best friend

STEVENS COUNTY, Wash. — Best friends come in all shapes and sizes. Some even with four legs. They’re there when you need them most, like Leia, a man’s dog who he claims saved his life.

Ralph Roberts was at home on July 19, with Leia by his side. He said he hired his neighbor’s 16-year-old son to help with things around the house.

The teen’s dad, John Louis Price Jr., told Roberts he had to pay his son $10 an hour, according to court documents.

Roberts said Price’s son was supposed to do the dishes, but didn’t do a good job. Court documents say the son went to tell Price what Roberts told him.

The father and son came back over and Price told Roberts he had to pay his son.

That is when Roberts reportedly told Price he wanted to show him something at his house. Roberts said he trusted them and followed them with Leia.

“They held each one of his arms and assisted him in walking,” documents said.

The house was about a quarter mile down the road, but Roberts said the father and son led him to the woods.

“Y’all are planning on leaving me down here to die,” Roberts said. “And he [Price] wouldn’t speak to me or nothing. He wouldn’t even give me a hello or nothing and that’s what they did.”

Deputies said Roberts usually has an oxygen tank and cannot walk well. Roberts said he crawled, trying to get back home or find help.

“Oh God, I crawled a very, very long ways,” he said. “Putting me out there in those mountains really did hurt me bad and I don’t want to ever want to go through that again.”

He kept crawling, leaving scratches all over his body, and screamed for help for days.

“I didn’t want to die,” he said. “I haven’t seen all my grandchildren yet.”

Roberts said he drank swamp water for three days to survive. Deputies said it was in the mid to upper 90s during that time.

By Roberts’s side the whole time was his dog.

“The last day I said look, you have to go find Tag,” he said. “We’re both going to die right here.”

Roy Canfield, also known as Tag, is Roberts’ landlord and lives next door.

“She found Tag,” Roberts said. “She went straight to Tag and Tag knew that I was somewhere around here.”

That is when Canfield realized something was wrong.

“Things just didn’t look right up there and that wasn’t Ralph,” he said. “He never went around, left his dog out and stuff.”

Around 9:30 p.m. on July 22, he called 911 and said he had not seen Roberts for a few days.

Stevens County deputies got to his home and started to hear screaming. It was Roberts.

“And he says, well the guy’s down there,” Canfield said. “He’s hollering for help. I said he couldn’t get down there.”

Canfield said all Roberts had on was a pair of sweats; no shoes or shirt.

First responders carried Roberts up the mountain and took him to the hospital. Documents said he was cold and had scratches all over him.

“That was a dream,” Roberts said. “I knew I was going home.”

And he did eventually go home.

“I thanked them all,” he said. “Trust me, I thanked them all.”

He also credits Leia for what she did.

“And that’s what saved my life was that dog,” Roberts said.

Deputies contacted Price about what Roberts told him. He was at the scene when deputies found Roberts.

The Stevens County Sheriff’s Office said Price started to walk off when Roberts was found, and according to court documents, said he had not seen Roberts in over three weeks.

Prior to talking to deputies, court documents explain that Price allegedly told Roberts’ landlord that a man and woman may have been responsible for his disappearance. He later denied saying this.

Documents state that Price also told the landlord he had been calling hospitals, looking for Roberts.

Deputies said based on Roberts’ statements and “the fact that there is no way he could have physically gotten down through the woods and the swamp on his own,” Price was arrested for attempted murder.

Editor’s Note: The above story was written August 11. Charges against Price were dropped on August 20. 

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