No one expected to find Donna Molnar alive.
Searchers had combed the brutal backcountry of rural Ontario for the housewife from the city of Hamilton, who had left her home three days earlier in the middle of a blizzard to grocery shop.
Alongside his search-and-rescue dog Ace, Ray Lau on Monday tramped through the thick, ice-covered brush of a farmer's field, not far from where Molnar's van had been found a day earlier.
He kept thinking: Negative-20 winds? This is a search for a body.
"Then, oh, all of a sudden, Ace bolted off," said Lau. "He stooped and looked down at the snow and just barked, barked, barked."
Lau rushed to his Dutch shepherd's side.
"There she was, there was Donna, her face was almost totally covered except for one eye staring back at me!" he said. "That was, 'Wow!' There was a thousand thoughts going through my head. It was over the top."
With one ungloved hand near her neck, Molnar, 55, mumbled and tried to scream as Lau yelled to other rescuers. Dressed in a leather coat, sweater, slacks and winter boots, Molnar was carefully extracted from a 3-foot-deep mound of snow that had apparently helped to insulate her.
As for Ace, he's still awaiting his reward: a T-bone steak. It's the least that can be done for a dog who, in his own way, paid it forward.
"A while ago, Ace was rescued from a home where he didn't belong, and now he got to rescue someone. I can't describe the magnitude of that, what that means to me," Lau said.
"He's definitely getting his steak. I'm grocery shopping right now."
Here's a picture of our Teddi, masquerading as the puppy from Grinch:
And here's what happened to ten of Michael Vick's dogs.