Two-year-old Catherine Ann Jackson of Aiken, SC was playing in her yard around 5:00
pm on Sunday, and was being watched by her big sister. When her older sister left
her for a moment, Catherine wandered away. The police were called and the immediate
area near the family home was searched, but Catherine could not be found. More than
200 uniformed police officers and 100 volunteers searched throughout the night and
prayed for her safe return.
Dr. Amy Gratch and her Golden Retriever Bristo began their jog on Monday morning
a little later than usual, so Dr. Gratch changed her usual route. As she and Bristo
were jogging along a trail in Hitchcock Woods, the rambunctious Retriever ran ahead
and then suddenly stopped. Dr. Gratch approached Bristo and discovered that the
canine had not only found Catherine, but was washing her face with his slobbery
tongue. The tiny toddler was curled in a ball, barefoot and wearing only a t-shirt
when she was found two miles from her home.
"She looked like a beautiful angel", said Dr. Gratch, a professor at the University
of South Carolina Aiken. "I picked her up and she was just so warm and beautiful."
The professor did not know who Catherine was because she had not heard the news.
Dr. Gratch rushed the bundle to a nearby house to call the police. When the neighbor
opened the door, she smiled and said, "That's the baby that was lost." The 14-hour
search was over and Bristo had become the hometown hero.
Little Catherine was treated at Aiken Regional Medical Center for a slight case
of hypothermia and was released. Catherine's parents were overcome with the outpouring
of love and concern that was shown by so many strangers. The police and volunteers
searched until 11:00 pm when the authorities disbanded the search. They brought
in Bloodhounds to try and track Catherine but the hounds were unsuccessful. Bristo,
who was rescued from the Aiken Animal Shelter, was successful and was dubbed "The
Prince of Dogs and (the) Protector of People".