Deaf and Partially Blind Dog Protects Three-Year-Old Girl Lost in Harsh Australian Bushland

A deaf and partially blind 17-year-old Blue Heeler named Max is being praised as a hero for keeping a toddler safe after she got lost in the inhospitable bushland of Queensland, Australia, last weekend.

The girl, three-year-old Aurora Kyle, went missing from her grandmother’s Queensland home around 3:00 p.m. on April 20th. When Kyle’s grandmother, Leisa Bennett, realized that the child was missing, she began to look around the property with other family members, but they were unsuccessful. Soon, more than 100 State Emergency Service members, concerned neighbors, and police officers became involved in the search for young Aurora.

But the search would not be easy, since the sprawling property that surrounded the house includes hills, cliffs, dams, and even mountains. The rough terrain added to the urgency of the search, since it would pose enough of a risk to an adult who wasn’t careful, and many times more so for such a young child. To make matters worse, the weather was cold and wet with intermittent rain showers throughout the night, and Kyle had left her grandmother’s home in only a T-shirt.

Volunteers, emergency responders, and family members scoured the woods and hills looking for the girl until the early hours of the morning, but their efforts proved unfruitful. The search was suspended at 1:30 a.m. Saturday morning.

When the search resumed at dawn, the majority of those looking for Kyle concentrated on one side of the property, but Bennett decided to look on the opposite side around a nearby mountain. It turned out that she had made the right call. After shouting near the location, Bennett heard a small voice shout “Grammy!” back. At that point, Max rushed out to meet Bennett. “The dog came to my feet, and I thought, ‘Oh my god, I found the dog.’ The dog led me straight to her,” she said.

Kyle hadn’t eaten or had anything to drink since she had wandered off from her grandmother’s house the previous day, and she had a few small cuts and scrapes, but she was otherwise in good health. At last, Bennett—along with all of the others who had joined in the search to find Kyle last weekend—could finally breathe a sigh of relief.

"I think [Aurora] was a bit overwhelmed by the tears and the howling, but I explained to her how happy those tears were," Bennett told ABC News.

Indeed, luck was certainly on the girl’s side, but it may have been her canine companion, Max, that really made the difference. Ultimately, the three-year-old had wandered a distance of two kilometers away from her grandmother’s house through harsh terrain to get to that mountaintop. But the stalwart old herding dog stuck by Kyle the whole time and kept her safe, even providing her with warmth when the temperatures dropped that damp evening. According to Bennett, following their reunion her granddaughter said, “’I pulled him, and we slept together . . . I had a good sleep, [Grammy].’”

“I don’t think I’ll ever doubt that dog ever again because he is a great little dog,” Kyle’s uncle, Jake Miller, told Seven News. The local police were so impressed with Max’s efforts that they made him an honorary police dog. Based on the outcome, with Max keeping Aurora company, keeping her warm, and helping rescuers find her location, it’s safe to say that Max’s new title is certainly well deserved.

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