Last week, Sherry Noppe took her black Labrador on a walk in the Houston suburb of Katy, Texas.
But Noppe and her dog Max never returned from their May 3 stroll.
For three days, Noppe’s family worried about the status of the 63-year-old woman, who was recently diagnosed with dementia.
But on Friday, as authorities and volunteers searched for Noppe, they heard barks coming from the woods, Harris County Precinct 5 Constable Ted Heap said in a statement.
It was Max, who never left Noppe’s side. The dog’s barks led rescuers to his owner, who was reunited with her family just in time for Mother’s Day, her children said during a news conference.
“He saved her life,” Noppe’s daughter Courtney Noppe said.
Her brother Justin Noppe added, “He’s our hero.”
It was around 3 a.m. that rescuers and volunteers heard Max’s barks coming from the woods of George Bush Park, a 7,800-acre park not far away from where Noppe and her dog were last seen.
Family friend Michael England, who participated in the search efforts, told KHOU that Noppe and Max were found in a “super thick” and “marshy” part of the woods where one could easily get lost.
“You can walk 50 feet in there and get turned around,” he said, adding that Noppe was found several hundred yards into the vegetation.
“She knew she was lost, but I was amazed at how strong she was,” England told the news station. “She wasn’t severely disoriented and out of it but definitely lost. … She didn’t know what to do.”
Her family said she was given fluids at a hospital to treat her dehydration. Other than some cuts and bruises, she was not injured, her children said at the news conference.
“She’s doing surprisingly well for how long she’s been out there and the conditions that we were expecting: the heat, the rain,” Noppe’s daughter Courtney said. “We’re very grateful.”
Max was taken to a veterinarian’s office, where he was examined and given a bath. He was deemed healthy after the rescue, Noppe’s family said.
“That dog … stayed by her side for three days,” said Noppe’s son Justin. “And that just shows you the loyalty the dog has.”