A good boy who survived the deadliest and most destructive fire in California’s history was found weeks later, apparently guarding the site of what was his family’s home.
For roughly month after the Camp Fire tore through Paradise, nearly completely burning it to the ground, Andrea Gaylord’s male Anatolian shepherd mix Madison reportedly refused to leave her property, ABC-affiliate KXTV reported. Gaylord hadn’t been able to reach her home before evacuating to bring him with her. Madison, an outdoor guard dog who’d been missing, was discovered at the property after a woman with the animal rescue organization K9 Paw Print Rescue checked in on the dog at Gaylord’s request.
Shayla Sullivan, the woman who helped locate Madison and his brother Miguel—who was found some 85 miles away in Citrus Heights—spotted him several times but “knew he took his job seriously and wasn’t going to be an easy catch,” Sullivan wrote on Facebook last week. Instead, in addition to leaving him food and water, she said she put out an article of clothing that smelled like his mom and left it at the site “to keep Madison’s hope alive until his people could return.”
When Gaylord returned to her property after the evacuation order was lifted, Madison was there, waiting, seemingly guarding the remnants of what was his home.
“Imagine the loyalty of hanging in through the worst of circumstances and being here waiting,” Gaylord told KXTV. “It was so emotional.”
The Camp Fire that started in early November destroyed Paradise, the community of 27,000 of which little is left. Nearly 14,000 residences and more than 4,000 other structures were lost in the fire, which burned roughly 153,000 acres. At least 85 people were killed, making it the deadliest in the state’s history. Yet seemingly through it all, Madison remained.
“He had stayed to protect what was left of his home, and NEVER gave up on his people!” Sullivan wrote on Facebook. “He didn’t give up through the storms or the fire!”
Madison has since been reunited with his brother Miguel as well.
“You are the best dog,” Gaylord said of Madison through tears. “The best.”
Clarification: Added that Sullivan provided food and water for Madison until Gaylord could return to the property.