As the camp's fire raged, killing at least 85 people and displacing thousands of people in northern California, Madison waited patiently.
Andrea Gaylord, owner of the Anatolian Shepherd, could not get to her home in Paradise, California, when the fire began to spread – November 8 – which means Madison was left behind. For weeks, all Gaylord could do was pray for Madison's safety, according to the California-based animal rescue organization, K9 Paw Print Rescue.
Shayla Sullivan, a volunteer from the relief organization, had already helped locate Madison's brother, Miguel, in another city. But Madison was even harder to find. Sullivan sighted Madison a few times in a canyon, apparently keeping her territory, and regularly poured cool water and water in the hope that the dog would come back, according to a Sullivan article posted on Facebook. She even placed a garment that smelled of Gaylord's smell near the house "to keep Madison's hope alive until her people could come back," wrote Sullivan.
When the evacuation order was lifted last week and Gaylord returned to the property – decimated by the fire – his prayers were answered: Madison was there, apparently protecting the little that remained from his family's house.
"GOOD, I'm so HAPPY to announce that Andrea has been allowed to return to her property today and THERE MADISON WAS !!!! He stayed to protect what was left of his home and NEVER let his people fall! Sullivan wrote in the commentary posted on his Facebook message, which was shared nearly 12,000 times on Saturday afternoon.
"I'm so happy to cry writing this! He did not give up in the face of storms or fire! It must have been a good month for him! She added.
Shortly after, Madison was reunited with Miguel for the first time since the fire, ABC10 reported. Gaylord, moved, said in an interview with the network that she was delighted to see Madison waiting. She also expressed how grateful she was to Sullivan.
"Imagine the loyalty of hanging around in the worst of circumstances and staying here waiting," Gaylord told ABC10, adding, "You could never ask for better animals."
Gaylord has lost everything in the fire and is now homeless, according to a K9 Paw Print Rescue official. The campfire ravaged an area the size of Chicago, destroying 14,000 homes and taking more than 17 days to contain it.
But Gaylord has found comfort knowing that his dogs are safe.
"You are the better dog, "she said in an interview with ABC10, fighting through tears. "The best."