Lifestyle & Human Interest

Hero Dog Leads Rescuers to Mother with Dementia Who Was Lost in Woods for Three Days


A family in Harris County, Texas, was extra thankful for their mom this Mother’s Day after she went missing for three days in George Bush Park.

Sherry Noppe lives in a neighborhood that backs up to the 2,700-acre park, and though she has been diagnosed with dementia, the park was a deeply familiar place to her.

The last time she was seen before going missing was on surveillance video from Tuesday night, as she walked to the park with the family dog, Max, a black Labrador retriever.

When she didn’t come home, the search was on. For three days and through horrible weather, strangers, family, friends and authorities searched for the woman.

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They used drones, helicopters, ATVs and a K-9. The tracking dog picked up the woman’s scent and the search teams turned off their vehicles to hear better.

That’s when they heard Max barking. With no leash on, the loyal dog had stayed by Noppe’s side until help arrived.

“And we knew when that dog barked — there should be no dogs out there – that was her,” Michael England, a family friend, told KBMT. “She wasn’t severely disoriented or severely out of it, but definitely lost, and didn’t know what to do.”

Around 3 a.m. on Friday, search teams located Noppe 50 to 100 yards off the trail with Max at her side. She was taken to Memorial Hermann Hospital in Katy, where she was treated for minor injuries — cuts, bruises and dehydration.

“The person out there I know that was searching for her informed me they had found her and I didn’t believe it,” Noppe’s daughter Courtney said. “I said I want a picture and I got that picture and I started calling everyone, and it’s the greatest news I could have ever gotten.

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“She’s doing surprisingly well for how long she’s been out there and the conditions that we were expecting. The heat. The rain. So we’re very grateful for that.”

Noppe’s family has expressed their thankfulness to the community that rallied around them and didn’t call off the search even when the going got tough.

“I’m grateful for them not giving up, for pushing on,” Courtney said. “They really were committed.”

“It’s been a blessing to us to bring our mother home on Mother’s Day — this weekend’s going to be very special for us,” son Justin Noppe added.

They’re also incredibly thankful for their four-legged hero Max, who they say saved their mother’s life.

“With Max, that dog had no leash, no collar, and stayed by her side for three days,” Justin said. “And that just shows you the loyalty the dog has.”

“Max was our brother’s dog, he passed away two years ago … He’s the last thing that we really have of him … To get them both back is a silver lining.”

Max has since been checked over by a vet and is scheduled to get a nice bath and a steak dinner for his lifesaving efforts.

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