A kind-hearted family from Brisbane, while on a bushwalk in a secluded section of D’Aguilar National Park, recently ended up on an unexpected dog rescue mission.
Jessica Paton, Luke McMillan (her husband), and Graham Paton (her father), were exploring some rock pools when they noticed an animal in the freezing water of one of the deeper pools.
Thinking the animal might be a kangaroo or a platypus, they approached quietly, only to see the frightened face of an exhausted dog looking up at them.
Not knowing whether the dog was domesticated or wild, the family members were naturally cautious as they approached. But they knew that either way, they had to help. The dog was so exhausted from frantic attempts to get out of the deep section of the pool that the family members were sure the animal wouldn’t survive another night there.
They carefully and gently looped a rope around the dog’s head and managed to drag the animal out onto the rocks. It was now clear that the dog was female and desexed – at some point, she had been someone’s companion.
Wondering whether she’d been dumped in the forest or simply become lost, the family decided that even if someone was looking for her, they simply couldn’t leave her behind in such an unforgiving and dangerous area of the bush. There were also no houses within at least a 5-km radius, and there was no obvious way for her to make her own way out of the deep gully she’d fallen into.
The dog was very timid and reluctant to come over to the family after enduring such an ordeal. She disappeared into the lantana, and the family members were forced to wade in after her – struggling to keep her in sight as she moved through the thick scrub.
They eventually spotted her lying in the undergrowth and approached cautiously, sitting still for a while to ease her anxiety.
She was very dejected, apprehensive, and obviously still exhausted. Jessica gradually moved closer and gave her a scratch on the head. A lick on the hand finally signalled the dog’s willingness to make friends.
It seemed that she’d been living in this particular area for at least a few days and had possibly been alone in the bush for much longer. Despite this, she was still carrying a little extra weight, leading her new friends to christen her Miss Piggy.
They knew that they needed to get her out of there – the problem was how.
She was so exhausted and the terrain so steep and dangerous that they knew it was going to be tricky to get her back to civilisation. Using their climbing ropes, they created a makeshift harness with non-slip knots and attempted to coax Miss Piggy up to the road, high above them.
She struggled to navigate the scrub and loose rocks, so her rescuers tried carrying her and gently nudged her from behind at various points – making sure her rope was secured to a tree to prevent her from slipping.
Progress was slow, and the vines on the steep slope were becoming problematic. Miss Piggy was becoming more and more exhausted, and it was becoming clear that carrying her was the only option.
The family members retrieved a canvas bag from their car and managed to get Miss Piggy inside it. Estimating that she weighed around 40 kg, they needed a safe way of carrying her in the bag and settled on threading a strong tree branch through its handles.
After spending almost three hours on their rescue mission and even carrying Miss Piggy up a 3-metre vertical ascent to get back to the road, the family members were finally able to get her back to their car.
Once on board, she was much more relaxed, giving everyone lots of smiles. After arriving at their home, she wagged her tail enthusiastically.
They fed Miss Piggy some dinner and then began to search for her guardian. A post on a local “lost pets” Facebook page quickly seemed fruitful when a local man anxiously got in touch after just 30 minutes – hopeful that Miss Piggy was the dog he’d lost almost a month earlier.
Living in a suburb about 15 km north of the creek where she’d been found, the man was certain that this was the same beloved dog who had disappeared from his yard – the dog he’d been searching for every evening since.
Mounting huge social media and local poster campaigns, the man had never given up hope that he would find his precious companion.
After making sure that the dog was definitely the same one the man was missing, the family organised a reunion and discovered that Miss Piggy’s real name was, in fact, Elly-Bobby.
When the man arrived, Elly-Bobby was overjoyed to see him. It was a beautiful and emotional reunion, and since returning home, Elly-Bobby has settled back in and is enjoying all her home comforts after living in the bush for so long.
For their amazing efforts in rescuing Elly-Bobby, Rocklea residents Jessica, Luke, and Graham received a PETA Hero to Animals Award and a letter of appreciation from PETA.
Jessica and Luke with their framed award
“The compassion and heroism shown by Jessica, Luke, and Graham are truly an inspiration.The Rocklea community is very fortunate to have such caring citizens.”
– PETA Australia Associate Director of Campaigns Ashley Fruno