In case you were looking for an excuse to dissolve into a pool of tears this morning, here it is: A California family who was forced to abandon their dog, Madison, when the Camp Fire tore through their neighborhood last month finally returned home—and found Madison patiently waiting for them in the charred site where their house once stood, ABC 10 reports.
Because of the speed and strength with which the Camp Fire ravaged Paradise back in November, Andrea Gaylord and her husband weren't able to return home to grab anything before evacuating. That meant they were forced to leave behind their two dogs, Madison and Miguel. Since the massive Camp Fire destroyed more than 18,000 homes and structures and earned the bleak distinction of being the deadliest fire in California history, Gaylord likely felt pretty nervous about the fate of her puppers.
But somehow, because dogs are simultaneously the purest and also the most resilient animals on this doomed planet, all was well. First, Gaylord was reunited with Miguel, who had fled almost 100 miles to escape the flames, thanks to an animal rescue volunteer named Shayla Sullivan who tracked the doggo down.
But Madison was still missing—until just last week, when Gaylord finally managed to make it back to her property in Paradise. And there, she found her Anatolian shepherd mix, sitting amid the ashes and twisted metal that was once Gaylord's home, carefully guarding the land and waiting for his owner to return.
"I’m so HAPPY to report that Andrea was allowed to return to her property today and THERE MADISON WAS!" Shayla Sullivan wrote on Facebook. "He had stayed to protect what was left of his home, and NEVER gave up on his people! I’m so happy I’m crying as I write this! He didn’t give up through the storms or the fire! A LOOOOONG month it must have been for him! "
It's unclear how, exactly, Madison was able to survive the literal hell that was the wildfire, but the extremely good boy knew enough to stay alive and wait for his family to come back for him. "There's our dog, waiting," Gaylord told ABC 10. "Imagine the loyalty of hanging in through the worst of circumstances and being here waiting. It was so emotional."
"You could never ask for better animals," she said.
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This article originally appeared on VICE US.