In November, wildfires tragically ravaged Paradise, California, destroying almost all of the town's property and killing nearly 100 residents. Despite this devastation, though, there have been glimmers of hope in Paradise's recovery process. On Dec. 7, a dog who survived the California wildfires greeted his owner as she returned to her Paradise property for the first time in a month. Madison, an Anatolian shepherd mix, had been guarding the remains of the woman's home the entire time, CBS reported.
The outlet noted that Andrea Gaylord returned to her Paradise residence for the first time since fleeing it on Nov. 8 as the Camp Fire spread throughout her town. While she was away — and unable to access her property — Gaylord requested that animal welfare officials check on Madison. The officials reported that Madison was reluctant to interact with them, but that they regularly left him food and water.
When Gaylord was finally allowed to return to her property after officials deemed it safe, she found Madison protecting the remains of her home. She told the Associated Press that she found her dog's loyalty comforting in the wake of tragedy. As Gaylord described:
Imagine the loyalty of hanging in in the worst of circumstances and being here waiting ... Their instinctual job is to watch the flocks and we’re part of them.
K9 Paw Print Rescue, an animal rescue group in California, said on Facebook on Dec. 5 that Madison's story offers hope to others still seeking to find their pets after the wildfires. "When they [the Gaylord family] finally got clearance to go back to the lot where their house once stood ... Madison was waiting there for them as if he were protecting his former home," the organization wrote. "Never give up!!"
Shayla Sullivan, one of the animal welfare volunteers who provided food and water to Madison, commented on K9 Paw Print Rescue's Facebook post to share more information about the joyful reunion between Gaylord and Madison. As Sullivan wrote on Dec. 7:
Andrea was allowed to return to her property today and THERE MADISON WAS!!!! He had stayed to protect what was left of his home, and NEVER gave up on his people! ... He didn’t give up through the storms or the fire! A LOOOOONG month it must have been for him!
Sullivan also expressed similar sentiments regarding the hope that Madison's story should offer others trying to reunite with their pets. "I am sure as more people return the Furr Babies that survived the fire WILL know their people are back!" she wrote on Facebook. "Keep the HOPE alive!"
Fox News reported that, in addition to providing Madison with food and water while Gaylord was away, Sullivan also helped locate Madison's brother, Miguel. As CBS explained, Miguel had been placed in a shelter after the fire, but was reunited with Gaylord prior to her reunion with Madison. Miguel accompanied Gaylord when she returned to her property on Friday.
In describing her reunion with Madison to ABC 10 News, Gaylord emphasized how much her pet's loyalty had touched her. "You could never ask for a better animal ... You really couldn't," she told the outlet.