Loyal Dog Stays at Home’s Burned Ruins for a Month

Just how loyal are dogs? Madison, an Anatolian shepherd mix who somehow survived the devastating Camp Fire that killed at least 85 residents and destroyed much of the town of Paradise, Calif.—including his owners’ house—refused to leave the charred ruins for weeks.

As the fire roared toward their home on Nov. 8, Andrea and Bill Gaylord tried to get Madison and his brother, Miguel, to evacuate with them. The dogs, frightened and confused by the smoke and the noise of the first responders ordering everyone to leave, refused to get in Bill’s truck.

Although Andrea said she felt horrible leaving Madison and Miguel behind, she had a feeling they’d both survive.

Amazingly, she was right. Miguel ran off, while Madison remained behind, faithfully guarding the property where his home once stood. When a storm moved in and heavy rain fell, he still wouldn’t budge.

“Imagine the loyalty of hanging in through the worst of circumstances and being here waiting,” Andrea told ABC10. “You could never ask for better animals.”

Only Madison knows how he managed to survive the fire with no burns. But he may not have survived in the aftermath without the help of Shayla Sullivan, an animal rescue volunteer who authorities allowed to enter the evacuated area. She was assigned to help the Gaylords and other residents who’d left their pets behind.

After Sullivan spotted Madison, she began bringing the loyal dog food and fresh water regularly. She also left behind something Andrea had worn “to keep Madison’s hope alive until his people could return,” Sullivan wrote on her Facebook page.

Meanwhile, Andrea searched online for Miguel. When she saw what appeared to be a photo of him in a town 80 miles away, it was Sullivan and another volunteer who drove there to get him and bring him to the RV park where the Gaylords are temporarily staying.

When the evacuation orders were finally lifted on Dec. 6, the Gaylords drove to their property and had a tearful reunion with Madison.

“Their instinctual job is to watch the flocks – and we’re part of them,” Andrea told ABC10. “It’s a comforting feeling.”

Anatolian shepherd dogs, according to the American Kennel Club, are “protective and territorial, but also intelligent, patient, and profoundly loyal” – which seems like a perfect description of Madison.

“This particular breed is about making sure that what belongs to them stays theirs, and they are there to protect it,” Trish King, a canine behavior consultant, told KGO. She said humans and dogs process a traumatic event like a house fire differently, although we feel the same emotions. Humans tend to analyze these emotions, while dogs live in the moment.

“In this case the dog is going to go to its home, recognize some of the stuff around the home and because they were people who loved him, they will stay there and wait,” King told KGO.

The Gaylords lost everything in the Camp Fire but are grateful that their two dogs are alive and well. Sullivan has started the Madison’s People campaign to help this loyal dog’s family start over.

Photo credit: K9 Paw Print Rescue/Facebook

114 comments

Jack Y
Jack Y10 days ago

thanks

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Jack Y
Jack Y10 days ago

thanks

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John J
John J10 days ago

thanks for sharing

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John J
John J10 days ago

thanks for sharing

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susan a
susan a29 days ago

Pity some owners aren't this loyal!!!

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Georgina Elizab M

Thank you for such a lovely story on loyalty.

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Janis K
Janis K29 days ago

Thanks for sharing.

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Colin C
Colin Clauscen29 days ago

Dogs can be so loyal

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Sherri S
Sherri Sabout a month ago

I love happy endings!

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heather g
heather gabout a month ago

He obviously didn't stay there all the time otherwise he too would have been burnt.
Sounds like many Americans abandon their pets in emergencies. Wherever they went, the dogs could have slept in the vehicle, not so?

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