Max was originally Sherry Noppe's son's dog but after he passed away, she was taking care of the dog and it saved her life.
A 3-year-old dog has been labeled a hero for standing by its owner with dementia for three days in the woods and helping alert authorities of their location. Sherry Noppe, a 63-year-old with early-onset dementia, had gone for a walk with Max, a black Labrador retriever, when she got lost in the woods. The walk took them through George Bush Park in Katy, Texas, on May 2. It is a sprawling 7,800-acre park that includes a large soccer field, shooting range, ponds and jogging trails among other things, and is surrounded by forest and swamps. Noppe wandered off into the forest and couldn't find a way back out of the dense woods. She was missing for three whole days as a rescue team looked for her, reported KHOU.
Luckily for her, Max stayed with her throughout the ordeal, providing her comfort and security. The rescue team found Noppe and Max at 3 a.m. on Friday morning. As the rescue team got closer, Max started barking loudly to alert them. Noppe's family says it's uncharacteristic of Max to make so much noise but he was possibly trying to protect Noppe. “He’s not a barker, and I think something was coming, and he was like I got to protect her," said Courtney Noppe, her daughter.
“When they actually found her, they heard him growling and barking," added Justin Noppe, her son. "As they got closer to her, I think that’s what caused him to bark because he was protecting her. So I do think his barking is what led those people to hear him and go in that area and find her. So yes, I do believe he saved her life," continued Justin. "It's been a blessing to us to bring our mother home on Mother's Day — this weekend's going to be very special for us."
Constable Ted Heap is relieved to report Sherry Noppe, missing since Tuesday, has been found in George Bush Park. She was located at approx. 3am Friday by a group of tireless volunteers and deputies who were alerted by the sound of her dog, Max, barking in the woods. #hounews pic.twitter.com/ZKOOjldJ94— Harris County Pct 5 (@HCpct5) May 6, 2022
It was on Tuesday that constable Ted Heap confirmed Noppe was been found alive in George Bush Park. "It's a small miracle that she's alive after being missing for so long," said Heap. What was incredible was that Max had no leash or collar on him when the rescuers found them. Max could have easily run away but he stuck by Noppe for three days voluntarily. “I think she was hiding. I think she was disoriented, paranoid, and just was hiding, and didn't want to be found. And so no, I think if Max wasn’t there, she would not have been found," said Justin. Thankfully, Noppe didn't suffer any serious injuries. She only had a mild case of dehydration and some minor cuts and bruises. "She's doing surprisingly well for how long she's been out there and the conditions that we were expecting," said Noppe's daughter Courtney at a press conference. "The heat. The rain. We're very grateful."
Noppe's family said she didn't remember much of the ordeal and only remembers walking into the woods and then feeling disoriented. “I think it’s amazing what he did. It’s honestly a miracle for him to have stayed with her for 3 days and not left her side," said Courtney. According to Brandi Hunter Munden, vice president of the American Kennel Club, Labrador retrievers are very loyal and this could explain why Max stayed by Noppe's side throughout the ordeal.
Labrador retrievers are a “great choice for families with young kids or other dogs, Labs get along with everyone and love their owners endlessly,” said Munden. Justin also added that the family had a sentimental connection to Max. "Max was our brother's dog. He passed away two years ago," said Justin. "He's the last thing that we really have of him. To get them both back is a silver lining." The family confirmed that Max is in good health and was examined by a veterinarian.