An elderly dog in Australia is being hailed a hero after saving a 3-year-old girl when she got lost overnight in the Australian outback. Max, a blue heeler who is deaf and partially blind, stayed with the lost toddler for 15 hours after she wandered off with the 17-year-old dog in the afternoon of April 20, 2018.
Three-year-old Aurora went missing from Cherry Gully in Queensland and a search team of more than 100 State Emergency Services (SES) volunteers found no trace of the little girl as the day moved into night. They had to resume their search efforts the following morning. But it ended up being Max who saved the day. Max found Aurora’s grandmother, Leisa Bennett, and lead her to Aurora so that she was found around 8 a.m., according to ABC Australia.
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.”
Bennett 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.”
Benston added 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. She was still on their property at Cherry Gully, but Phipps explained that the terrain around the house is quite mountainous and “very inhospitable”, noting that Aurora had “travelled quite a distance with her dog that was quite loyal to her.” He also noted that the search was very hard on volunteers and police who had to tackle steep slopes full of lantana and other vegetation, as well as cold, raining weather.
It was an emotional reunion for the family. Bennett noted that Max must have “never left her sight. She smelled of dog, she slept with the dog.” But what is even more remarkable is that Max must have realized the little girl was in danger and went to fetch help!
Aurora has some minor cuts and scrapes, but otherwise was found healthy, in no small part thanks to Max.
Queensland Police tweeted: “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.”