A 2-year-old girl who wandered away from her family home and into the woods might never have been found had it not been for two faithful family pets.
Thea Chase had been outside on Sept. 20 with her uncle, who was power washing, when he told her to go inside and put some shoes on because she was outside barefoot.
Despite replying to her uncle with “OK,” Thea didn’t go into the home, but instead embarked on a 3-mile walk into the local forest in rural Menominee County, Michigan.
Luckily for her and her mom, she didn’t go alone, according to local NBC affiliate WLUC. Buddy, a large Rottweiler, and Hartley, a Springer Spaniel, who have been with the Chase family since Thea was born, accompanied the toddler on her journey.
Her mother, Brooke Chase, said she went check on her daughter because her “gut” told her to. After about 20 minutes of searching for Thea and the dogs, she called her husband — and 911.
“When we get a call like that, everything else stops,” Michigan State Police Lt. Mark Giannunzio told CNN on Friday.
Local and state police, aided by citizen volunteers, used drones and police dogs in the search. A volunteer on an ATV located Thea first, around midnight — because Buddy, the big Rottweiler, was standing guard over her while she slept, using Hartley as a pillow.
Buddy growled at the approach of the family friend, ready to defend that young girl who, according to her mother, “has those dogs wrapped around her finger.”
She had been missing for nearly five hours, and Mom was understandably frantic.
“I am just running up and down the road, we were driving up and down the road trying to search,” Chase said. “We are not hearing any of the dogs, they are not coming to our calls, she is not coming to our calls. I was just panicking, thinking the worst.”
But only a few miles away, her daughter was resting peacefully in the 60-degree night.
“She laid down and used one of the dogs as a pillow, and the other dog laid right next to her and kept her safe,” Giannunzio told MLive on Thursday. “It’s a really remarkable story.”
“I am thankful for the dogs being with her,” Brooke Chase said. “When she was found, the only reason she was, was because our bigger dog, Buddy, was standing there. The driver said he went to touch her to wake her up because she was still sleeping, and Hartley was growling at him to not touch the kid.”
Mom may have been panicked, but little Thea appeared to be unharmed, both physically and psychologically.
“I ran outside when I heard [on the radio] she was up here,” Brooke Chase told WLUC. “The minute she sees me she says, ‘Hi Mommy!’ like nothing happened.
“She was giggling,” she added. “I was trying to compose myself.”
Several outlets noted that Thea, despite a five-hour walk over three miles of wooded terrain, didn’t have a scratch on her.
“I just want to thank everybody that was here helping find her,” the mother said.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.