A pack of loyal family dogs helped save a boy with Down syndrome after he went missing in the Australian wilderness on New South Wales' north coast.
The four-year-old boy named Riley Martin and his three dogs spent the night in the bushland after he disappeared from his home at Nambucca Heads yesterday.
His three pet dogs - two fox terriers named Nitro and Bruno and a 10-month old kelpie named Missy stayed by his side and kept him warm during a cold night.
Riley was discovered by a couple who saw an appeal for help on the NSW Police's Facebook page. Having kids of their own, Leif O'Brien and Sally Pratley, drove to the area to help with the search. Close to 200 people assisted with looking for the boy. They heard a dog bark and almost stood on the boy who was found sitting on the ground by a tree, shivering from cold and covered in scratches. He was surrounded by his three dogs.
"We heard a dog bark and ran towards it and found him face down curled up underneath a bush, said Sally. "We didn’t know if he was alive until he turned his head and we were so relieved. He was freezing cold and we kept giving him assurance and told him we were taking him back to his mum."
Riley's mother said it was unusual for the dogs to stay out all night, and she prayed they were by his side. After Riley was found, the dogs returned home on their own one by one. First home was Nitro and Bruno, followed later by Missy. The dogs were thirsty and covered with ticks from their night-long vigil.
Riley's mother was visibly shaken and relieved as soon as she was reunited with her son. She hugged him and collapsed to the ground. "He's been through the bush. Those dogs kept him alive. Words can't describe it."