Six months have passed since dog walker Annette Poitras and three pooches in her care were rescued from the cold and rainy Coquitlam back country after spending two nights missing in the wilderness.
Now, she is ready to tell her story.
The events of last November are outlined in a new book, Three Dog Nights: The Search and Rescue of Annette Poitras, which was written by Anne Bruinn and released this week.
The ordeal has made Poitras a local celebrity and she said she is often recognized as “the dog walker” when she is on the trails or running errands in the community. “People come up to me and they want to hug me,” she told The Tri-City News Monday.
The 56-year-old was walking Chloe, Roxy and Bubba on Eagle Mountain last November when she slipped on a log, hitting her head and knocking herself unconscious. She is still unsure how long she was out but said she lost her phone and gloves in the fall.
The next day, disoriented and struggling to move, Poitras searched for one of the dogs that had wandered off during the night, walking toward the BC Hydro power lines. But after finding the animal, she was unable to go any further and hunkered down for the second night with the three animals.
She did not know it at the time, but while she was struggling in the woods, searchers from across southern B.C. were on her trail. More than 100 search and rescue volunteers were deployed to the area while Talon helicopters conducted a search from the sky.
On the third day, Poitras heard people calling her name in the distance and Roxy began barking, alerting the searchers to their location.
“If I had to spend one more night, I didn’t think I was going to make it,” she said after being released from the hospital a week after first going missing. “I really didn’t.”
Monday, in the backyard of her Coquitlam home wearing a black t-shirt adorned with the message “Life Is Better With a Dog,” Poitras said she still struggles with the events of last November. She has nightmares about the incident and while she hikes the mountains every day, she said she tends to stay away from the area where she fell and her ordeal began.
“I am not ready,” she said. “It gives me shivers. I don’t want to relive it.”
Anne Bruinn, the author, spent nine days living with the Poitras family at their Coquitlam home researching the book. Bruinn closely followed media reports during the search and said she was “ecstatic” when Poitras and the dogs were found safe. But when she was still thinking about the tale a month later, she believed the story could make a good book and decided to reach out to the family. “It really resonated with me,” she said.
With the help of Annette’s husband Marcel, Bruinn was able to piece together a 130-page narrative that walks the reader through what the family members were thinking and feeling while the search was taking place. Search manager Michael Coyle wrote a foreword and some of the proceeds from sales will be donated to Coquitlam Search and Rescue.
Poitras said she hopes her tale can serve as an example for others and teach people the importance of being prepared when exploring the wilderness. She is particularly pleased when she encounters other hikers on the trails who are carrying the 10 essential items Coquitlam SAR says can make a difference in survival during an emergency.
She later added: “This could happen to anyone. Many people can learn from my experience and they can be better prepared in the back country.”
• Three Dog Nights: The Search and Rescue of Annette Poitras is available on amazon.com in paperback and at amazon.ca as an ebook. For more information, email Marcel at email@example.com.