Joshua Workman turned 2 years old Friday and received his first birthday present shortly before 1 a.m.
Kootenai County sheriff’s deputies found Joshua about 300 yards from his Twin Lakes home, six hours after he set out among the thick pines that consume the ridge behind his grandfather’s house.
The boy, a little wet, was curled up under a tree with his 5-month-old puppy, Prince.
“They said (Prince) got between the rescuers and Joshua,” said the boy’s mother, who shied away from the resulting attention and asked not to be identified. “He was guarding.”
Joshua and Prince, a Great Pyrenees, wandered away about 6:30 p.m. Thursday, touching off a search that included 18 sheriff’s department rescuers, a dozen neighbors and two search dogs. The boy was last seen playing with toys scattered in the dirt in front of his house.
“He usually makes so much noise it’s easy to find him,” Joshua’s mother said.
Word that Joshua was missing spread quickly through the rural neighborhood. The boy’s mother called everyone who lives adjacent to her father’s 10-acre tract on Timber Ridge Road, and each in turn called their neighbors.
Relatives, friends and neighbors quickly assembled to search for the boy. The sheriff’s department search and rescue team was called out a few minutes later.
While about 30 people looked behind trees and inside every house, out building and car, Joshua’s mother waited by the phone. She kept thinking back to the previous day, when Joshua ventured out of sight down the long dirt and gravel driveway while playing with his toy trucks. He returned a few minutes later.
“There’s just this feeling that he’s going to be around the corner,” his mother remembered thinking during the search.
The call she had been waiting for came at 12:50 a.m., according to a sheriff’s department report. Joshua had been found snuggled up with Prince under a tree on the ridge about 300 yards from the property, the report said.
“I feel the only reason I didn’t totally freak out was my faith in God,” Joshua’s mother said. “God knew where he was.”
By Friday afternoon, Joshua was back playing in the driveway. His mother called the support the family received from friends and neighbors “incredible.”
She also was quick to praise the sheriff’s department search and rescue team for its quick and organized response. “The dog kept the baby safe, but they’re the ones that found him,” she said.
Of course, there was enough kudos left for Prince, who basked in the glow of both the Friday afternoon sunshine and the praise being heaped on him.
“They said when we got him that he was a guard-type dog, but I didn’t think he’d start so soon,” Joshua’s mother said.
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