An Anatolian shepherd mix — dog breed native to Turkey — that survived the catastrophic wildfire in Northern California apparently protected the ruins of his home for almost a month until his owner returned.
Madison was there waiting when Andrea Gaylord was allowed back to check on her burned property in Paradise this week.
Gaylord fled when the Nov. 8 fire broke out and decimated the town of 27,000. An animal rescuer who responded to Gaylord's request to check on Madison first spotted the male Anatolian shepherd mix several days later.
Shayla Sullivan said the outdoor guard dog was apprehensive and kept his distance. Sullivan left food and water for him regularly until Gaylord got back on Wednesday. She also helped locate Madison's brother Miguel, another Anatolian shepherd mix that was taken to a shelter 85 miles (135 kilometers) away in the confusing aftermath of the wildfire.
"If (the evacuees) can't be there I'm going to be and I'm not going to give up on their animal until they can get back in," Sullivan said.
The dogs reunited Friday when Gaylord came back to the property with Miguel and brought Madison his favorite treat: a box of Wheat Thin crackers.
Gaylord told news station ABC10 she couldn't ask for a better animal.
"Imagine the loyalty of hanging in in the worst of circumstances and being here waiting," she said.
"Their instinctual job is to watch the flocks and we're part of them," Gaylord said about her dogs. "It's a comforting feeling."
Anatolian shepherd dogs are mainly used as guard dogs for livestock in their native Turkey. They are known for their great protective skills and loyalty.
A large and powerful animal, the origin of the Anatolian shepherd dog dates back to more than 6,000 years ago. They are capable of enduring Turkey's harsh climate in the winter and the nomadic lifestyle of shepherds.
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