Dog Waits for Weeks for Owners To Return After Wildfire Completely Destroys Home

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During the devastating Camp Fire in California, thousands fled their homes, taking what few items they could gather in the limited time they had.

In all the chaos, many people made sure to grab one of their most valuable possessions: their pets.

But what about those who couldn’t get home? What about those who were at work or out of town or blocked from getting back to their house? The wait to find out if their homes were still standing and their animals still living must have been excruciating.

There’s a happy ending to the story for one family, though, whose dogs defied all the odds to survive.

Madison and Miguel are large, off-white guardian dogs. The breed of dogs known as “guardians” or “livestock guardian dogs” are intensely loyal and protective.

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These are not wandering dogs or the type who would strike out on their own for the fun of it: These pups stay on their territory as much as possible and defend it and its inhabitants as though their lives depended on it.

That means finding and moving them can be difficult, to say the least. Their instinct is to stay and protect, so a random human coming up and trying to coax them away, even when the world around them is burnt to a crisp, is not very appealing.

Miguel was located and captured by a rescue group, and eventually made it back to owner Andrea Gaylord, but Madison was still nowhere to be found.

“Madison’s parents were unable to get home to him when the Camp Fire spread,” the K9 Paw Print Rescue posted on Dec. 5. “They hoped and prayed he would be OK.”

Fortunately, some good people who had access to the burn areas kept an eye out for the dog and did all they could to locate and care for him. Nearly a month after the horrible fire, his owners made it back to their charred property — and there he was, waiting for them.

“When they 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. Never give up!!”

But it was Shayla Sullivan, a rescue worker, who knew as much of the story as anyone could, as she was the one who volunteered to work on his case and left him food and water.

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“Do we all remember Miguel the guardian dog that was one of my tickets?” she commented on the K9 Paw Print Rescue’s post. “He had a brother named Madison that we have been looking for.”

“I kept Andrea’s ticket the entire time I was ‘officially’ inside. Each other time I was inside, I would return and put out fresh food and water. I’ve also been scouting ALL of the FB found pages in hopes he might turn up. After all, Miguel had turned up in Citrus Heights.”

“I had sighted Madison a few times deep in the Canyon BUT knew he took his job seriously and wasn’t going to be an easy catch. After meeting Andrea in person when I took Miguel to her, I had the idea of placing an article of clothing that would smell like her( i had hugged her) to keep Madison’s hope alive until his people could return.”

“WELL, I’m so HAPPY to report that 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! I’m so happy I’m crying as I write this! He didn’t give up through the storms or the fire! A LOOOOONG month it must have been for him! ?”

No doubt Madison will be getting plenty of tender loving care now that his people have him again, and he’ll be back with his family and his brother, Miguel, just in time for Christmas.

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Amanda holds an MA in Rhetoric and TESOL from Cal Poly Pomona. After teaching composition and logic for several years, she's strayed into writing full-time and especially enjoys animal-related topics.
As of January 2019, Amanda has written over 1,000 stories for The Western Journal but doesn't really know how. Graduating from California State Polytechnic University with a MA in Rhetoric/Composition and TESOL, she wrote her thesis about metacognitive development and the skill transfer between reading and writing in freshman students.
She has a slew of interests that keep her busy, including trying out new recipes, enjoying nature, discussing ridiculous topics, reading, drawing, people watching, developing curriculum, and writing bios. Sometimes she has red hair, sometimes she has brown hair, sometimes she's had teal hair.
With a book on productive communication strategies in the works, Amanda is also writing and illustrating some children's books with her husband, Edward.
Austin, Texas
Languages Spoken
English und ein bißchen Deutsch
Topics of Expertise
Faith, Animals, Cooking