Two years ago, a black mutt jumped into Matty Bryant's truck, and since then he and the dog, named Velvet, have been a team.
Velvet is credited with saving Bryant, a 34-year-old special education teacher, and two other hikers by keeping them warm while they were trapped overnight on Mount Hood.
"Velvet and I … have been in love with each other since we met," Bryant said today on "Good Morning America."
The ordeal began Sunday afternoon when blinding conditions sent Velvet and the three hikers, all roped together, hurtling 500 feet down a ledge.
"It was amazing how focused I became just in that moment," Bryant said.
"I just remember thinking, 'Oh my gosh, I'm really falling. I wonder when this is going to end and if it's going to end.' And trying to make sure my feet didn't hit the ground," he said.
Kate Hanlon, also a 34-year-old teacher, said she quickly realized the third member of the party, 26-year-old Christina Redl, was in worse shape than she and Bryant.
"I was a little bit in shock, initially," Hanlon said. "I checked in with Matty to see if either of us was injured. I thought I was more injured than I actually was, and we immediately established that Christina was more injured than both of us so we went into caretaking mode."
Pep Talks and Exercises
Though she was the most seriously injured, Redl miraculously sustained only a fractured wrist, and some cuts and bruises over her eye.
Redl said today that Bryant had kept her and Hanlon physically active and had forced them to eat.
"Matty had us go through different exercises. We would clench our muscles and relax. We did it every 20 [minutes] to 40 minutes," she said. "He forced us to eat and drink. Christina and I were both pretty … we were all dehydrated. Neither of us wanted to eat or drink because it was very uncomfortable."
"We would call 911 on the hour, and every half hour I would ask Matty for another pep talk," Redl said. "He would give these fantastic pep talks about how we were going to be rescued. It was great."
Some have criticized Bryant for bringing a dog along on a potentially dangerous hike.
"I think on a fair-weather day, where I originally intended to bring her, which is where we stayed the first night, it would be an OK trip for the dog," Bryant said.
"When the weather turned bad, it was certainly not a place for the dog. So I lived and learned," he said.
Thankfully, though, bringing Velvet along may have been the difference between survival and freezing to death. Bryant said he planned to treat the black Labrador mix extra nicely.
"You know, I think that we're just going to spend the consistent time together," he said. "She'll get some extra dog treats along the way, too. Maybe even a nice bone."