A 17-year-old deaf and nearly blind Blue Heeler stayed with his 3-year-old human sister overnight after she wandered off from her family's property and got lost in rugged Australian bushland.
Lost in the Australian bush
On Friday afternoon last week, 3-year-old Aurora was playing on her family's property in rural Queensland when she wandered off and got lost in nearby bushland.
Realising the child was missing, the family immediately alerted authorities.
A search party of more than 100 police and State Emergency Services (SES) volunteers was gathered and an extensive search of nearby bushland began.
A challenging search effort
Rugged, mountainous terrain around the property proved challenging to police and SES personnel who were then hampered further by rain that ran into the night.
"The search was actually quite hard where the volunteers and the police were, amongst the very steep slopes full of lantana and other vegetation," SES area controller Ian Phipps said.
Despite a ground and aerial search, Aurora could not be found.
The search was called off late that night with police and volunteers holding grave concern for Aurora's welfare in such poor conditions.
Little did anyone know that the family dog Max had followed Aurora into the bush...
Max to the rescue
The search for Aurora resumed at first light after a cold, wet night.
Aurora's grandmother Leisa Bennett, who was actively involved in the search, was the first to hear Aurora's response to their calls.
Hearing her faint voice in the distance, Leisa headed straight up the mountain.
"When I got to the top, the dog came to me and led me straight to her," she said, telling ABC News it was an emotional reunion.
"I think [Aurora] was a bit overwhelmed by the tears and the howling, but I explained to her how happy those tears were," Leisa said.
Aurora was found about two kilometres from the house and suffered only minor cuts and abrasions. Max had stayed with her for more than 15 hours, presumably keeping her safe and warm until rescuers arrived.
The police decided to pay homage to Max by declaring him an 'honorary police dog'. Despite his age and impairments, Max has been hailed a local hero - and rightly so!
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. 🐶https://t.co/QiszGFP4gg via @ABCNews pic.twitter.com/xxRc6ndeaK— Queensland Police (@QldPolice) April 21, 2018
Source: Queensland Police