When rescuers are unable to locate a man who has become lost in the desert, they turn to his dog for assistance.

Late last month, when Don Gregorio Romero went missing from his home in Sonora, Mexico, his family was understandably concerned. Romero, who is 84 years old, is thought to have wandered off in a disoriented state, and was then unable to find his way back.

After his family’s search around town proved fruitless, they reached out to local authorities for help. But Romero’s hero would soon turn out to be someone with no training at all.

For days on end, search and rescue crews scoured the desert region for any sign of Romero — but all to no avail. Authorities even enlisted the service of skilled tracking dogs, though they too failed to uncover any clues about where Romero may have ended up.

A week after Romero went missing, with hopes of finding him alive fading, rescuers decided to turn to the one who knows him best.

They asked his dog, Palomo, for help.
Palomo was brought to vicinity of where Romero was last seen a week earlier — and, sure enough, the pup was stirred to action.

Evidently having caught his beloved owner’s lingering scent, Palomo began walking into the barren desert, leading rescuers on a lifesaving mission.

For nearly two miles across the inhospitable landscape, the faithful dog followed his nose — and his heart. All the while, hopeful rescuers watched in tow.

“[Palomo] led authorities between hills, roads and ravines, to where Don Gregorio was,” state officials in Sonora wrote.

Romero’s dog had found him, exhausted and dehydrated, but thankfully still alive.

Rescuers then led Romero out of the desert to safety. But to all present, there was no doubt about who was to thank for ending his harrowing ordeal.

“The hero of this day is called Palomo, this puppy who found his owner!” search party member Debora Mtz wrote.

Romero was then brought to a local hospital for treatment for dehydration and exposure. There, Palomo’s dedication to him was clear to see, too.

The pup stood faithful outside the hospital door, awaiting his best friend’s release.

Though many people had rallied together in an effort to find missing Romero, a statement about the incident from state officials makes clear it was the bond he shares with his pup that ultimately led to this happy ending.

«There is no doubt about that the love that animals feel for their owners,» officials wrote. «But in the case of ‘El Palomo’ […] that love went beyond what was expected, as it helped save his life by guiding security and civil protection elements and his relatives to locate his master.»

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