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Couple Returns to Home Lost in California’s Camp Fire to Find Their Dog Waiting for Them

2 minute read

After losing their home to California’s deadliest wildfire, one couple had an unexpected reunion with their loyal pet.

K9 Paw Print Rescue, a Bay Area-based animal rescue non-profit, said on Facebook this week that the couple returned to the site of their lost home in Paradise, Calif., and their beloved dog Madison was there as well.

“They hoped and prayed he would be OK,” the group posted. “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!”

November’s Camp Fire in Northern California was the deadliest wildfire in state history, with 85 confirmed deaths and over 18,000 structures destroyed. As the wildfires spread, many residents had to abandon their home and belongings. In some tragic cases, fleeing residents had to leave pets behind.

Shayla Sullivan, who said she volunteered in the fire zone, explained how she orchestrated the reunion in the comments of the Facebook post.

Sullivan said she initially found the couple’s other dog, Miguel, and reunited them. But Madison remained behind, making him harder to catch. In the meantime, Sullivan left food and water out for Madison until she could lure him back home.

Sullivan said she met with Andrea Gaylord, one of Madison’s owners, and had the idea of placing an article of clothing that would smell like her to “keep Madison’s hope alive until his people could return.”

Sullivan happily posted that the plan worked out.

“Well, I’m so happy to report that Andrea was allowed to return to her property today and there Madison was,” Sullivan wrote. “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 long month it must have been for him!”

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Write to Gina Martinez at gina.martinez@time.com