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Surviving the Storm: A Tale of Triumph, Tenacity, and Two Faithful Canine Companions

Brian Boddie met two of his best friends in the same way; he saved them. Benny was found on the
streets at about 8 weeks old, starved and barely able to open his eyes. Brian and his late wife, Laura, would rescue dogs over the years so when a friend came across Benny, they called Brian and Laura.

Laura had multiple sclerosis so when they received Benny and instantly fell in love with him, they decided to train him to help Laura. However, Benny started to wake Brian up during the middle of the night, and with Brian being a diabetic, his wife would tell him to go check his sugar. Sure enough, his sugar was going low, so from then on, Benny was his diabetic alert dog.

When a friend of Brian’s was driving down I-75 one day, he saw something fly out the passenger window of a vehicle, and after stopping, realized it was a puppy. He brought her to Brian and luckily nothing was broken, but she was cut up badly. Laura decided she was going to keep her and named her Mini, and “She’s been our love bug ever since,” Brian said.

Brian lost his wife a few years back. They were married for 43 years and had one son. “She was my better 85%,” Brian said.

Little did Brian know when he saved Benny and Mini’s lives, that one day they would be the ones saving his life.

The day that changed everything was September 29, 2022, when Hurricane Ian arrived at his home. Brian worked in the hurricane industry and sat on the hurricane task force for the state of Florida for 10 years, so he was very well educated when it came to hurricanes.

They were advising people to evacuate, but according to radars of the hurricane, it was not supposed to come anywhere near North Fort Myers where he lived, so he stayed put. “At the last minute, she decided to come on top of us with no warning,” Brian said. With his knowledge of hurricanes, he did take extra precautions with his house, and according to his insurance company it was rated to stand up to 150-mile-an hour winds.

He was sitting in his home and says his house got lifted and then just dropped. Once it dropped, a lot of furniture got moved and Mimi, who at the time was sitting on his lap, got scared and jumped off. She ran right in front of a big wall unit he had his TV on. He was afraid it was going to fall on her, so he got up to grab her and right then is when it fell. He fell on his big glass and metal table, which broke, and the glass went into his right ankle and pinned him to the floor.

At this point, electricity was out and there was no cellphone service, so there was no way for him to get help. Most of the people in the area did evacuate, so he knew he would be there for some time. “I wasn’t sure but thought maybe by the following day someone would start coming through to check on us,” he said. But the longer he laid there, the more he thought about how they had bigger areas to search and must have thought everyone was evacuated where he was.

One day turned into two and two days turned into three. “By the end of the third day, I knew no one was coming to check on us, and it was just me and the two dogs that were in the house.” Over the course of those three days, Benny kept going to his food bowl and bringing back kibbles for Brian, trying to feed him. He said he didn’t eat it, but he was getting close to doing so! Mini remained on his chest to keep him warm.

At the end of the third day, Brian knew he had to do something to get himself out of there if he wanted to survive. With the bone already broken from the glass table, he says he had no choice but to use the glass table as a saw to get his foot unstuck and leg out. He used his belt as a tourniquet.

He crawled out of his house to the 3-feet-deep water and with Benny and Mini on his back, he made his way to his car. He drove just enough to get to the front of the community and parked his car on the side of the bank so his taillights could be seen. He said within just a few minutes, a good friend of his happened to be driving down the road and saw his vehicle.

Brian and his pups were very well known to the whole community from his volunteering and bringing Benny and Mini throughout the neighborhood. When he got to the hospital and was told what day it was, he knew he had spent four days in his home with just his best friends. He says the whole time he was lying on the floor, he just knew he was not going to die, “I had the faith in me that there was no way this was the end for me. I still had things to do.”

Two-and-a-half days after he made his way out of his house and was found by his friend is when crews came to search his community, which he says at that point he would not have survived.

Brian truly believes all the events that transpired during those four days were not by chance, such as the simple fact of the timing when his friend happened to be driving by and saw him on the bank of his community. “It didn’t make any sense for someone to be driving down that road at that hour,” he said. By the time he got to the hospital, the highest reading for his sugar the machine would give was 600, and his was off-the-chart higher. He had so many different forms of bacteria in his leg, some that the doctors still can’t identify. Doctors told him if he got to the hospital even six hours later, they would not have been able to save his life.

“Everything about this story, #1 I feel it’s about God, #2 I feel it’s about my dogs, and I come in third,” Brian said. “Because without the first two, I would not be alive.” Brian and his two best friends now reside at American House Fort Myers.

We all have a story. A story that taught us something, changed us and helped define who we are. Our seniors have amazing stories that hold a wealth of wisdom. At American House, your next chapter is waiting to be written. We’re here to help you write it. Your way.

Written By

Rachel Nagorsen

Rachel Nagorsen has worked in the senior industry for the past 20 years. She graduated from Oakland University with a major in Journalism. During her time in college, she was an intern at WDIV and enjoys broadcasting and public speaking. Rachel loves being able to combine her passion for writing with her love for working with seniors.

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