The following was produced in partnership with The Stray movie. This amazing true story of a dog who saves a family is in theaters October 6.
Mitch Davis, a young father of three, struggled to connect with his family. Working long hours, he spent less and less time at home, distancing himself further from the people he needed to connect with the most. His marriage was in trouble and the relationships he had with his children were hanging by a thread.
Around this time, Davis' 10-year-old son, Christian, found a stray dog. Needing a friend, Christian brought the stray home. Davis didn't like the thought of another mouth to feed, but the dog stayed. Pretty soon Pluto was a part of the family.
In a desperate attempt to connect with his son, Davis planned a camping trip in the Colorado mountains. He invited two of Christian's friends to come along with them. And, of course, Pluto tagged along as well.
As the boys were hiking, a storm came in. They quickly set up their tent and hurried inside. Christian and his friends curled up in their sleeping bags to keep warm as Davis cooked some food. It seemed the worst was over.
In an instant, that all changed. As Davis describes the experience, "I started fixing dinner on our little camp stove. Then, suddenly, I was gone."
Davis has no memory of the moment lightning struck, but Christian and his friends do. They saw the bolt come down through the tent's roof, hitting Davis in the chest. He fell to the floor of the tent, his eyes still open, but rolled back into his head.
After striking Davis' chest the lightening shot around the tent in a frenzy, hitting all the boys and burning holes in their camping gear. When it stopped, the boys were unharmed, except for a few burns, but Davis still lay unconscious.
Asking for a miracle
What Davis does remember is hearing the boys scream after the lightning died down. Davis still couldn't move or wake up, but he says, "As if from a great distance ... I heard my son cry out, 'Dad, please don't die!' ... (Yet) I could only lie there, helpless, wondering what in the world had happened to me."
Then Davis felt something else: a darkness he describes as "impending death." But Davis was not ready to die. He had not yet made things right with his son. He had not cared for his wife and other children as he promised he would. He did not want to die.
"Before I could call on (God)," Davis recalls, "He called on me." Davis remembers hearing a voice encouraging him to "ask in confidence."
Even in this remote place, God sent Davis the encouragement he needed. Davis says, "He knew I had faith in him but lacked faith in myself as a worthy recipient of the miracle I so desperately needed."
With this encouragement, Davis prayed with "every ounce of faith I had," and immediately he regained consciousness. Davis attributes his miraculous recovery to the hand of God, one that had been watching out for Davis long before the lightning struck.
An unlikely miracle
Davis says God began to save his life the moment his family took in that stray dog. "Pluto gave me my life back," Davis saids. "He saved me and my family in more ways than one."
Pluto came into the Davis home at a time when their family was falling apart. He brought them together when hope for a happy family seemed lost. And during the traumatic lightning storm, it was Pluto, right beside Davis, who took the brunt of the bolt's power to save Davis' life.
Davis didn't know it at the time, but God was always watching out for him and his family. Sometimes we fail to see the little miracles that end up saving our lives.
"When you're young, young kids, young marriage, young in your career, it's all happening at once ... It's hard sometimes to remember why you're doing everything," Davis said. In these moments of distress, God sends us exactly what we need. Whether that's a camping trip with a son, a whisper of encouragement or even a stray dog, we never are left without his help.