After losing their home in the deadly California wildfire, a family has just reunited with its dog after weeks of separation.
Andrea Gaylord and her family were away from home when the fires broke out, and were forced to leave town on Nov. 8, leaving their dogs Miguel and Madison at home, NBC News reported.
This week, Gaylord was permitted to return to her property. Although her home was in ruins, her dog Madison was waiting for her.
“Imagine the loyalty of hanging in in the worst of circumstances and being here waiting,” she said.
“Their instinctual job is to watch the flocks, and we’re part of them,” she added of her dogs. “It’s a comforting feeling.”
Before Gaylord returned to her home, she knew Madison had survived the fires.
She had contacted her friend and animal rescue expert, Shayla Sullivan, with a request to check on her beloved dogs. Sullivan began leaving food and water out in hopes that Madison, an Anatolian shepherd mix, would find it.
Something was eating the food she left, but it wasn’t until the third day she spotted what it was.
“The third day I went in there, I didn’t know if my mind was playing tricks on me, but I felt like I saw a flash of white movement down in the canyon,” she said, according to The Huffington Post.
Madison kept his distance, and Sullivan kept leaving food and water for him until the Gaylords could return.
“If [the evacuees] can’t be there, I’m going to be and I’m not going to give up on their animal until they can get back in,” Sullivan said.
Madison kept his distance until Gaylord returned on Friday.
“When Andrea showed up, he smelled her,” Sullivan said, adding that he happily approached his owner in “about 5 or 10 minutes.”
Sullivan was also able to track down the other dog, Miguel, who was found 85 miles away at an animal shelter, and reunite him with the family.
Both dogs are remaining on the property while Sullivan and the Gaylords continue to care for them. Sullivan said the dogs are better off on the property where they can roam, as opposed to the mobile home park where the Gaylords are staying.
“These dogs are livestock guardian dogs, they do not do well in heat, they do not do well in small enclosures,” she said. “They protect their property.”
The “Camp Fire” wildfire killed a total of 84 people throughout northern California. It destroyed Gaylord’s town of Paradise, with a population of 150,000.
This past Friday was the first day Paradise residents were permitted to return to their homes.