Dog is killed saving owner from a lightning strike

A very active young man and big fan of hiking with his German Shepherd Rambo, 27-year-old Jonathan Hardman of Colorado set out one day to climb Mount Bierstadt, a nearby peak in the Rocky Mountains.

It was beautiful when they reached 14,000 feet at the top of the mountain but suddenly the weather shifted. It got extremely windy and clouds blew in fast. They immediately headed back down toward safety but on the way there was a huge flash, a crash, and Jonathan hit the ground, not even knowing what had happened to him. 

In fact, he had been struck by lightning.

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“I just feel this intense, awesome pain and I wake up on the ground with blood filling the back of my sunglasses. I couldn’t move my arms or legs,” he recalled. After taking cover under a rock where another group of hikers was huddled, he looked around for Rambo. Where was his beloved dog?

He still had no idea that the top of his skull had received a direct hit from the lightning. Besides his bleeding head he had burns right down onto his shoulders and torso.

Then he caught sight of Rambo lying some yards away, not moving. He shouted to him again and again. Rambo didn’t move. The people with Jonathan held him back from running out to the dog. It was just too dangerous.

He said, “I screamed and was trying to go get him but the people under the rock wouldn’t let me go. I couldn’t stop screaming his name.”

During the lightning strike Jonathan and Rambo had been close together. It turned out Rambo had also been struck and had not survived. By the time the wind and lightning had subsided and the hikers could retreat safely down the mountain, Jonathan had to face the fact that his four-legged best friend was too heavy for him to carry. Sick at heart, he had to leave him there for the time being. 

At the hospital doctors told him how lucky he was. In fact, they were entirely convinced that the only reason Jonathan was still alive was because Rambo had taken most of the hit. His faithful dog’s presence had saved his life.

Jonathan is recovering, though he’s devastated by the loss of the companion he cherished so much. 

It almost seems like a cliche to say again that dogs are man’s best friend. Yet once you’ve experienced it, you know how deep and special the bond really is. And in this case, Rambo made the ultimate sacrifice for his loving owner.

“That was his life,” said his grandmother. "It was very traumatic for him… and if it hadn't killed the dog, we wouldn't have Jonathan."

The recuperating hiker needs some time to grieve. “He was the most loyal friend I could have ever asked for. I woke up every day happy, knowing someone was so excited to see me every morning.”

But it just so happens that the breeder from whom he originally got Rambo has a new litter of puppies — and he’s saving one for Jonathan.

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