A violent storm raged as the darkness of night surrounded two-year-old Dante Berry and his best friend – a seven-month-old German Shepherd named Dasher. The toddler would no doubt have lost his life that night from the elements or predators had Dasher not stayed by his side and protected him.
There are many beautiful stories of animals safe-guarding their humans from danger that will melt your heart. One of the most inspiring is that of Dante and Dasher. Dante, who lives with his parents in Mildura, Australia, was a curious and strong-willed little boy who absolutely adored his dog. In fact, the two of them were inseparable. Where Dante went, Dasher followed. On a cold and stormy night Dante vanished. The back door had been left open and it’s believed he wandered outside. The property is situated a stone’s throw away to a state forest, which is home to many predators.
His parents were frantic and searched the area before alerting the police and a search party rallied. In the chaos and confusion they only noticed a few hours later that Dasher was also unaccounted for. Due to bad weather the search party of over a hundred police, as well as fire fighters, neighbours and concerned strangers – had to be called off for the night and only resumed again at first light. Many believed Dante would be found dead. After all, how could a toddler wearing nothing but a long-sleeved T-shirt have survived such extreme elements?
In the morning -a discarded nappy was found on a dirt road a few metres from the home and a circular pattern of tiny footsteps accompanied by paw prints. By studying the footprints police confirmed that Dante and Dasher had been together the whole night, walking in circles. By that stage, the two and been missing for a total of 14 hours. Following the pattern , police were led for another 4km to Dante when they heard cries coming from some nearby bushes. A little grubby, dehydrated and frightened, Dante was found otherwise unharmed. Dasher was lying next to him. The toddler was taken home by his family before going to hospital where he was treated for dehydration and mild hypothermia, while Dasher was examined and given the all clear by a vet.
Department of Sustainability and Environment tracker Will Hannah said tracks showed the pair had gone around in circles. “You could just imagine what was going through his little mind – lost (and) dark. Lucky he did have his dog to keep him warm overnight,” said Hannah. “With the thunderstorms, Dante picked one of the worst nights to go missing.” Dante’s mom Bianca Chapman said she had never lost hope that her child was alive and knew the family’s dog would protect him.
No one can say for sure what might have happened to Dante had his dog not stayed with him. Dasher not only kept him warm during the thunderstorm, but likely warded off potential predators that may have been lurking in the forest.
Pets around the world have been applauded for helping save lives with many wonderful heroes in our country too. A loyal Bull Terrier named Dexter put his life on the line after he attacked and killed a cobra that had found its way into his owner Tracey Jacobs’ garage. The dog suffered extensive injuries but pulled through. Two-year-old Molly, a long-hair Chihuahua, saved a family during an attack by robbers on a smallholding near Rustenburg by barking uncontrollably and alerting her owners. Staffordshire Bull Terrier Bella sadly lost her life while trying to protect her owner Nicole Russell during an attempted armed hijacking. Bella was buried at the Booysens Animal Cemetery. Nicole provided the wording for Bella’s headstone. ‘Bella, May 1993 – October 1997. Greater love hath no dog than this, that she should lay down her life for her master.’