It is every parent’s worst nightmare: Your kids are outside happily playing in the yard. You turn away for a moment, and when you look back, they are gone.
Mary and Justin Bourg experienced this nightmare on Nov. 29. Their two little girls, Abigail, age 7, and Cecilia, age 4, were playing in the backyard of their Folsom, Louisiana home with their family dog, Artemis. But when Artemis ran off in the woods after something, the girls followed him … and disappeared from the property.
In a panic, the terrified parents contacted the police. Mary also posteda desperate pleato her Facebook page, writing, “Please please please I am begging you for your prayers. The whole police force and community of Folsom is out looking for our girls. They went missing from our property a little after 5. Our golden retriever is with them.”
Abigail and Cecilia had gone missing just after 5 p.m., and it was now long past sunset. Police officers and volunteers combed the deep woods, desperate to find the girls, who they knew must be terrified alone in the dark, while helicopters searched from above.
Finally, the aerial search hit upon something: There was movement in the woods, and the search-and-rescue efforts were instantly directed to search that area. But it was Artemis, the family’s golden retriever, who really saved the day.
“We had volunteer search crews, ATV’s, drones, helicopters, dogs, cars, and even a 25-person horse crew was prepared to search. They were found deep in the heavy woods and it was DARK,” writes Mary on her Facebook page. “Also, so grateful for our hero Artemis, our golden retreiver. The helicopter first spotted some movement and sent a search crew in their direction. And then Artemis heard people coming and started barking making it much easier to find them. He even growled at the police at first because he was protecting our babies.”
The hero pup stood guard until he knew it was safe to let the rescuers come close to the girls. Without his movement in the woods and his barking, the girls might have not have been found so quickly!
Mary also shared her gratitude for the volunteers in her community who helped to search for their girls — specifically the two neighbors who first came upon the girls.
Rooster Cowart saw Mary’s message on Facebook and went into the woods to search. He knew the area could be dangerous, especially as there are wild hogs that are known to have bad temperaments. In fact, it was a wild hog that caught Rooster’s attention.
“Rooster entered the woods from a different highway and started following a creek until he thought he heard the girls. He was then chased out by a wild hog (thank Jesus Artemis was protecting our girls from those dangerous things ),” writes Mary on Facebook. He also was suspicious of the hog being ‘so nervous’ and assumed our dog and girls must have been close by. He went back to his truck to get his gun and find others to help.”
Shortly after, Rooster and rescuers Michael Leake, April Leake and Chris Populis found the two girls. Abigail was very calm but little sister Cecila was terrified.
Mary continues Rooster’s story in the post, saying that Artemis wouldn’t let him get near the girls.
“He was circling them,” she wrote. “Mike’s wife was able to get up next to them without him after her.”
Days later, Mary reports that the girls are doing fine, but that they still want to stick close by Artemis, their hero. She shared a picture of one of the girls snuggled up in Artemis’s dog bed while he sleeps faithfully beside her.
What a good boy! Thankfully, this story had a happy ending, not only because of Artemis, but because of the selflessness of kind strangers and caring neighbors.
This story originally appeared on Simplemost. Checkout Simplemost for additional stories.