Brett Grinde and his German shorthair, Effie, hadn't made it far on their typical late-afternoon walk on Monday when the old hunting dog suddenly began pulling to the right.
Grinde, a Pine County sheriff's investigator, let Effie lead the way as she strained with her nose to the ground along the road along Pokegama Lake. He let her off the leash and she tore away and turned into a driveway 40 yards away, stopping at the body of Grinde's 94-year-old neighbor, William Lepsch. He was unconscious and frozen to the ground.
"I ran after her and when I turned into the driveway I couldn't believe it," Grinde later wrote in an e-mail to Lepsch's family.
"He had some serious exposure and blood underneath him. I have seen plenty of deceased people and thought he was dead."
So did Lepsch's wife, Marjorie, who said she peeked outside several minutes after her husband of 67 years disappeared at about 2 p.m. to retrieve the mail without telling her. She saw him lying in the driveway bleeding "from head to toe." She couldn't go outside and struggled to dial 911, but repeatedly misdialed out of panic. Marjorie, 88, who uses a wheelchair and walker, was unable to help him. Several more minutes passed until she was able to dial a niece who promised to get help and head over. In the meantime, Effie approached.
"Nobody's around and I'm out there hollering 'Somebody please help me!' but there was no one," she said. "In the meantime this dog ran up and began licking his face."
Grinde kept Lepsch's airway open and called 911 while the dog nuzzled his arms and shoulders as he worked on Lepsch. The dog then ran to the house where medics and deputies heard Marjorie Lepsch yelling from inside.