A 17-year-old blue heeler remained in the Australian bush overnight with a 3-year-old girl who had wandered away from her home and gotten lost.
Max the dog showed incredible loyalty by staying with the little girl, sleeping with her on a cold night and alerting searchers in the morning.
For his heroism, Max was named an “Honorary Police Dog.”
An old blue heeler named Max remained by the side of a three-year-old girl and led searchers to her after she spent more than 15 hours lost in rugged bushland on Queensland’s Southern Downs overnight.
Aurora was reported missing about 3:00pm on Friday after she wandered off on her own, but a search of woodlands and hills on the rural property in wet weather on Friday night found no trace of her.
On Saturday morning, more than 100 State Emergency Service (SES) volunteers, police and members of the public resumed the search and found the girl safe and well with Max the dog at 8:00am.
For his good work in keeping the little girl safe, Max has now been declared an honorary police dog.
Kelly Benston, the partner of Leisa Bennett, who is Aurora’s grandmother, said Ms Bennett and other searchers heard the little girl faintly from the top of a mountain on Saturday morning.
“She found the dog first. Max led her to Aurora,” Mr Benston said.
SES area controller Ian Phipps confirmed a family member spotted Aurora and Max about two kilometres from the house, still on the family property at Cherry Gulley, 30 kilometres south of Warwick.
“The area around the house is quite mountainous and is very inhospitable terrain to go walking in, so she’d travelled quite a distance with her dog that was quite loyal to her,” he said.
Blue heelers are Australian cattle dogs. They got their name from the unusual way they herd cattle, nipping at their heels to control them. They do the same to children, apparently.
As with dogs from other working breeds, the Australian Cattle Dog is energetic and intelligent with an independent streak. It responds well to structured training, particularly if it is interesting and challenging. It was originally bred to herd by biting, and is known to nip running children. It forms a strong attachment to its owners, and can be protective of them and their possessions. It is easy to groom and maintain, requiring little more than brushing during the shedding period. The most common health problems are deafness and progressive blindness (both hereditary conditions) and accidental injury; otherwise, it is a robust breed with a lifespan of 12 to 14 years.
At 17, Max is totally deaf and partially blind, which makes his heroism all the more remarkable.
Can you breed loyalty into a dog? While we tend to anthropomorphize our pets, dogs especially have traits that go beyond breeding or even domestication. The secrets of the emotional lives of dogs are just now being studied.
[W]e now understand that dogs have all of the same brain structures that produce emotions in humans. Dogs also have the same hormones and undergo the same chemical changes that humans do during emotional states. Dogs even have the hormone oxytocin, which, in humans, is involved with feeling love and affection for others. With the same neurology and chemistry that people have, it seems reasonable to suggest that dogs also have emotions that are similar to ours. However it is important to not go overboard and immediately assume that the emotional ranges of dogs and humans are the same.
Of course, this only confirms what humans who choose to keep dogs as companions have known all along: dogs love us.
And we love them.