February 20, 2007 -- A loyal dog saved three climbers from an icy death after they fell from a ledge and became stranded on Oregon's Mount Hood, officials said yesterday. The two women and a man were rescued after surviving a brutal night huddled in sleeping bags, shielding themselves from high winds - but it was their faithful black Labrador, Velvet, who made the difference between life and death, rescuers said. "The dog probably saved their lives" by lying across them during the freezing night, said Erik Brom, a member of the Portland Mountain Rescue team. He described the wind in the canyon as "hellacious." "We're soaking wet and freezing," said one of two rescued women as she walked to an ambulance. After Velvet helped the climbers get through the night on the 11,239-foot mountain, radio transmitters the size of eyeglass cases led rescuers to the group. Rescuers gave the climbers food and clothing before they all walked down the east face of Oregon's highest mountain. The three were taken away in the ambulance, with Velvet leaping in behind them. The climbers were expected to recover. One of the women, whose name was withheld, was hospitalized with a head injury. The other two climbers were identified as Matty Bryant and Kate Hanlon, both 34 and teachers in suburban Portland. Authorities credited the climbers with remaining calm and using safety equipment. "The most important part of this . . . is that they did everything right," said local Sheriff's Department Lt. Nick Watt. In December, three climbers vanished on Mount Hood. Rescuers found one climber, Kelly James of Dallas, who died of hypothermia. The other two - including Brooklyn resident Jerry "Nikko" Cooke - were never found and officials believe they're dead.