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Dominic Jeffries (pictured left of center) was missing for over 14 hours after he got lost taking his shih tzu, Coco (pictured right of Jeffries), for a walk last Wednesday. The 7-year-old told WREG-TV how he survived the bitter cold and damp Cordova, Tenn., temperatures by cuddling with his furry pooch all night.

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While walking Coco, the dog pulled Jeffries down a ditch and into some bushes behind a retainer wall near his home. When Dominic could not climb out of the hole, he cuddled with Coco for warmth. Even though the second-grader told WREG he felt warm, he thought his dog was not so he removed his coat and draped it over the canine. Dominic also removed his gloves and placed them on his feet.

Robbyne Manning (pictured above center), who had been a contestant on the famed reality show, “America’s Top Model” is Dominic’s and his 6-year-old sister, Chastidy‘s (pictured left of Manning), guardian. She summoned police after the boy did not return home.

Watch a news report about Jeffries’ and Coco’s ordeal here:

As police scoured the area, Dominic told WREG that he saw their flashing blue lights but was afraid to call out to them, thinking that he’d be in a heap of trouble when he returned home. Police could not clearly see him from street level in the area he’d fallen.

Dominic eventually decided to release Coco to see if the dog could get help. The boy later fell asleep and as family, friends and police continued to search the neighborhood for him, officers eventually spotted his big furry hat peeking up from the ditch.

Manning is amazed that Dominic managed to bear the frigid temps, telling WREG, “I don’t know where this kid gets his survival skills from but it’s just amazing.”

Meanwhile, Dominic has learned the hard way a few lessons he has taken to heart, one of them being that blue flashing lights are not always a bad thing. The young boy discovered that police are not scary; they even presented him with a badge.

Manning, who says she will never let Dominic out of her sight again, says he has a newfound respect for law enforcement, telling WREG, “They gave him the car number and everything. So, he said now when people need help, I got to go help them because I got my badge on.”

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