Contributed by Nathalie Caminada and her father René, grandfather to Dylan
So happy to let everyone know we have found her; it’s a miracle. Milly went missing on Sunday evening, the 7th of February. We looked for her at every moment, sometimes with hope but mostly worried we have lost her. We have always been impressed by how the Galston community comes together in times of crisis to help each other and through this experience, we have met some very kind and caring people who helped in finding Milly.
My father (my children’s grandfather) René is a bit of a hero in our family. He found Milly off the trail in the middle of the Galston Gorge bush at about 6 pm on Thursday, the 11th. She was on a cliff ledge where she could not go up or down. I don’t know how he managed to get to her, but he did! He then found himself unable to manoeuvre his way on the rocks whilst carrying Milly, who was in shock. He was exhausted with about 15% phone battery life. My son Dylan tried to get to him from the Gorge’s bridge, but it was too hard, and the light was fading fast. We were so worried for him and for Milly and René’s dog Jedi, who was with René. We could not find his location through phone calls, and then his battery went dead.
We could not have found him and the dogs without the help of our local heroes Karissa and Rob. They were unbelievable. Rob and my son Dylan went into the bush to look for them, and just before midnight, they returned after walking in the dark through thick bush down to the bridge. My father, though exhausted, had a big smile on his face when I first saw him. Dylan helped to carry Milly after they had found Dad. I am so proud of him for finding his grandfather and helping Milly. We are so very thankful for Rob’s help as he knew exactly what to do and kept everyone calm. He was amazing! We are also grateful for the unfailing support of Karissa and their two gorgeous girls.
We are so happy to have Milly home, with so many tears of joy. We want to thank everyone who helped during our search: those who put up posters, and those who offered words of encouragement.
Milly is doing well. She was very dehydrated but surprisingly ok considering she was probably stuck on a ledge for four days. Except for a few abrasions on her paws, the vet check-up gave her the all clear.
She is now back to her old self, and we are overjoyed she is back home!
Dylan said that he felt really happy that he could help his grandfather as he was worried for him. A great benefit was that he learnt a lot by watching what Rob was doing to help.
Galston the 17th of February
On Sunday evening of the 7th of February, I went on my daily routine walk with my two dogs, Jedi, a 10-year-old male German Shepherd cross Kelpie and Milly, a 4-year-old female Staffy cross Fox Terrier. For the past 6 months, we have been walking through one of the many beautiful bush fire trails. This one is at the end of Calderwood road in the Galston Gorge. After walking for an hour and making our way back to our starting point, I lost sight of Milly. After whistling and calling her name numerous times, to which she usually responds very quickly, I had no response. It was 7:30 pm. I called the family to help in the search but without success. We went back later that night with torches but no luck. I returned at 4 am as I couldn’t sleep and continued whistling and calling her name.
The next day, family members went out again. The amazing Galston community and friends also got involved with search parties every day. The search went on for the next four days and nights. We also put posters everywhere.
On Thursday evening, I went on my own with Jedi, walking down the main fire trail back to the water hole where I felt I had lost Milly. I started walking down the Gorge in the thick bush, whistling continuously when suddenly I heard barking far away. I listened intensely and recognised Milly’s bark, so I carried on in the direction of the sound of her barking. I kept on whistling, she kept on barking, urging me on, and I kept walking down through the thick bush. It’s now 7:30 pm with light fading; suddenly, she stops barking. Oh no! don’t stop barking, I need your barking to guide me in your direction, and I keep on whistling. I stopped, wondering why she stopped, and as I turned my head to look around, there she was, high on a rock, wagging her tail. I then realised why she stopped barking as she saw me first!
Then came the more challenging part. First, I had to climb the rock on which she was standing, which is no small feat for a 74 year old. Finally, I was able to rescue her, she was in shock, dehydrated, and lost a lot of weight, but she was ok. I found it strenuous manoeuvring the terrain whilst carrying Milly at the same time. It was now dark, so I had two choices, sleep here for the night or see if the family and community had a plan to help get me back. My phone worked for a while but soon ran out of battery, but I knew they were looking for me. So I settled down, sitting against a rock with Milly on my lap. Around 10 pm, I saw some flashing lights and heard voices above me. I responded to their call, and eventually, Rob, the local fireman and Dylan, my grandson, found me. After some water for myself and the dogs, Rob walked in front, and Dylan carried Milly, while Jedi tried to follow as best as he could. He was also exhausted. We made our way down through rough terrain to the Galston Bridge, which took about an hour, trying to see with our flashlights the holes and the rocks, trying to find the best way out. Eventually, we reached the bridge where family and friends were waiting for us. Thank you Rob, Thank you Dylan, my whole family and the Galston Community. What a Quest, what a Journey!!!! Milly is safe and sound with us again. She now walks tall amongst us.