A deaf and partially blind dog has a new title: hero.
Max, a 17-year-old Blue Heeler from Queensland, Australia, is being praised after spending more than 15 hours in rugged bushland in the rain with a lost three-year-old girl.
Aurora was reported missing around 3 pm on Friday after she wandered off on her own, ABC.net.au reported. Her family searched the rural property, but could not find her.
By Saturday morning, more than 100 State Emergency Service volunteers, police and members of the public took up the search.
Leisa Bennett, Aurora’s grandmother, said she heard the little girl’s voice from the top of the mountain on Saturday and headed toward it, where she found Max.
"I shot up the mountain ... and when I got to the top, the dog came to me and led me straight to her,” Bennett said to ABC.net.au.
Aurora was found at around 8 am Saturday morning about 1.2 miles away from her house. She suffered minor cuts and abrasions.
"The area around the house is quite mountainous and is very inhospitable terrain to go walking in, so she'd traveled quite a distance with her dog that was quite loyal to her," SES area controller Ian Phipps told ABC.net.au.
“With the weather last night it's quite lucky she is well because it was cold, it was cold and raining," he added.
Bennett said the reunion was emotional and was incredibly grateful for the outcome.
"I think [Aurora] was a bit overwhelmed by the tears and the howling, but I explained to her how happy those tears were," she said. "It could have gone any of 100 ways, but she's here, she's alive, she's well and it's a great outcome for our family."
As for Max, his tireless efforts earned him a much deserved spot as an honorary police dog.