Dog Guards Family's Burnt Down Home and Patiently Waits One Month for His Owners to Return
A Northern California woman had the reunion of a lifetime when she returned to the ruins of her home, one month after Camp Fire blazed through the community, and found her dog awaiting her arrival.
Andrea Gaylord told ABC10 that when she finally made it back to see what was left of her Paradise home, she found Madison, an Anatolian shepherd mix, patiently sitting on the barren property.
“You could never ask for a better animal,” Gaylord told the news outlet. “You really couldn’t.”
Last month, when the fires began to pick up speed and strength, Gaylord was unable to get home to rescue Madison and his doggy brother Miguel, according to K9 Paw Print Rescue. With strict evacuation orders in place for weeks, Gaylord was not permitted to return to her community or go searching for her pets.
Despite the odds being stacked against them — the deadly wildfires destroyed 13,972 residences and killed 85 people, according to Cal Fire — Gaylord believed that her dogs had survived and enlisted the help of local animal rescue volunteer, Shayla Sullivan, ABC10 reported.
Sullivan eventually found Miguel in Citrus Heights, a city 86 miles south of Paradise, but continued to search for his brother, who Sullivan said on Facebook she spotted “a few times deep in the Canyon.”
“[I] knew [Madison] took his job seriously and wasn’t going to be an easy catch,” Sullivan added, noting that she would leave fresh food and water on Gaylord’s property in hopes that Madison would eventually return.
She even had the idea of placing a piece of clothing that smelled of Gaylord on the property as a way to attract Madison.
One month after evacuating, Gaylord finally returned to her home to find Madison patiently waiting for her and protecting what was left of their property.
“Imagine the loyalty of hanging in in the worst of circumstances and being here waiting,” Gaylord told ABC10. “It was so emotional.”
Madison and Gaylord are not the only hopeful pet reunion story to come out of the devastation from Camp Fire.
Leahna Copsey’s house in Paradise, California, was also destroyed in the devastating wildfire. When authorities arrived to survey the damage, they found the family’s dog, Ella, standing watch over the surviving residence.
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“She was protecting it,” Copsey told Visalia Times-Delta. “She was protecting the only house left on the block.”
Like Gaylord, Copsey and her family were unable to get home to their dog before mandatory evacuation orders were put in place. However, the family luckily got the word out to animal control and the local police, who were able to keep tabs on Ella, and leave her food and water.
“We were overjoyed to know that she made it through the fire,” Copsey’s daughter Kayla Westman told PEOPLE. “She’s doing great for what she went through… There are a lot of other dogs that are in much worse condition, so we’re just really grateful that she came out like she did.”