It was the Rudolf family’s worst fear. Their nearly-blind rescue dog, Stevie, went missing in the pitch-black darkness of the Dubai desert. The South African expats feared that the beloved dog wouldn’t be found or not found in time to give him his epilepsy medication.
The family told the Gulf News that the situation was even more dire because Stevie is a rescue dog and was was formerly beaten and abused so badly as a puppy that he suffered brain damage. They adopted him at four months old and make sure to keep a close eye on him, but on the night he went missing, he got spooked.
“Due to his mass number of injuries sustained, he suffers from epilepsy and has a daily dose of controlled medication. Stevie is very set in his ways and chooses not to stray too far from familiar surroundings,” Michael Rudolph told the newspaper. “On Thursday night, Stevie wandered a little too far, causing him to become unsettled and confused resulting in him running off in an unknown direction.”
Adding to the difficulty was that Stevie doesn’t respond when called.
After family and friends searched unsuccessfully in the dark, Michael reached out to his friend, who is a drone pilot for, for help. His friend Eduardo Dorado brought a team out to where Stevie went missing and launched a drone with a thermal camera into the air.
The heat-sensing camera scanned the desert for hours and finally saw a red splotch in the sand two kilometres (1 mile) away from the family home.
The video footage below captures the moment when Michael reunites with Stevie. The German Shepherd was exhausted, but Michael says if it hadn’t been for the drone Stevie might have been lost forever.