Anyone who’s ever had a dog knows that “man’s best friend” is all the wonderful things in the whole wide world — loyal, adorable, and sometimes, a hero. An elderly dog in Australia saved a 3-year-old girl when she got lost overnight, ABC Australia reports, and the internet is basically a sobbing mess now. Max, a blue heeler who is deaf and partially blind, protected a the toddler who got lost in the bush for fifteen hours overnight.
The toddler, Aurora, was reported lost after she wandered off with Max, the 17-year-old family dog, on April 20. The three-year-old went missing from Cherry Gully in Queensland around 3 PM, according to the Daily Mail. An overnight search team of more than 100 State Emergency Services (SES) volunteers found no trace of the little girl, and resumed their efforts in the morning. But it wasn’t until Max led Aurora’s grandmother, Leisa Bennett, to the toddler that she was found around 8:00 AM.
Kelly Benston, Bennett's partner, told ABC that Bennett and rescuers could hear Aurora from the top of the mountain early this morning. Benston further told ABC that the little girl “went down a small valley and went up the face of a small mountain and camped there for the night. The dog camped with her.” Benston said that the toddler “was a bit overwhelmed by the tears and the howling, but I explained to her how happy those tears were. It could have gone any of 100 ways, but she’s here, she’s alive, she’s well and it’s a great outcome for her family.”
SES area controller Ian Phipps told ABC that a family member spotted Aurora and Max about a mile from their Queensland house, but still on their property at Cherry Gully. Phipps explained that “The area around the house is quite mountainous and is very inhospitable terrain to go walking in, so she’d travelled quite a distance with her dog that was quite loyal to her.”
Bennett said it was an emotional reunion “with a lot of tears.” And marveled that Max “Never left her sight. She smelled of dog, she slept with the dog.”
Phipps went on to say that “The search was actually quite hard where the volunteers and police were, amongst the very steep slopes full of lantana and other vegetation.” He remarked that “With the weather last night it’s quite lucky she is well because it was cold, it was cold and raining.”
Aurora’s grandma told ABC that the toddler started responding to her shouting, and she was able to track her down — “When I heard her yell ‘Grammy’ I knew it was her. “I shot up the mountain [...] and when I got to the top, the dog came to me and led me straight to her.”
Phipps further stated that the Aurora has some minor cuts and scrapes, but was found healthy, well, and safe with loyal Max by her side. “She’s a very hardy young lass to survive that without any ill effects and everyone, all the volunteers are extremely happy.”
Because Max is basically a superhero, he’s now been made an honorary police dog for his amazing work in keeping Aurora safe. Business Insider notes that Queensland police sent props to Max in a recent tweet, saying, “Such a good boy, Max! He stayed with his 3-year-old human who was lost near Warwick last night while we frantically searched for her. For keeping her safe, you’re now an honorary police dog.” I’m not crying.
Phipps said that everyone is doing well today, and that “There was a little bit of dread going into it with the cold last night, but to get such a positive outcome the volunteers are very happy, and will be tucking into a bacon and egg sandwich very shortly.”