Missing Australian toddler found with faithful dog at his side

Two days ago, 2-year-old Dante Berry wandered away from his Mildura, Victoria, Australia, home.

Thirteen hours later, he was found crying in the bushland three kilometres away, his pet German shepherd named Dasher at his side.

On November 6, little Dante went missing. His parents, who claim their toddler often wanders away from home, believe he left the house around 8:30 pm.

More than 100 people from Mildura joined the search for the little boy.

The next morning, his diaper was found — covered in paw prints — about two kilometres into a nearby state forest. Police say this clue helped lead them to the little boy.

"From our information he's renowned for pulling off his nappies," Senior Sergeant Stephen Phelan said.

As police ventured farther into the forest, Dasher ran up to them then led them to the crying boy wearing only a long-sleeved top.

"He had very grubby feet and legs," Senior Constable Carol Rigby told the Herald Sun. "I was a bit surprised that he was in as good a condition as he was in."

She added, "There was a bit of rain overnight and some thunderstorms, which must have been a bit nerve-racking for the child, but he was in pretty good nick considering."

Footprints in the area revealed that the boy and his dog had been together through the entire ordeal, walking 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 Department of Sustainability and Environment tracker Will Hannah.

Dante's grateful family released a statement to their community:

"We would like to express our thanks to the police, SES, CFA, members of the community and everyone involved in the search for Dante. We are extremely relieved that he has been located safe and appears to be happy. We were happy, but not surprised, to learn that his faithful dog, Dasher, stayed by his side and was also found safe and well."

This is the second story in two months in which dogs protected their young wandered-away owners. Last month in Alabama, a lost 10-year-old boy with Down syndrome was kept warm overnight in the woods by his pet puppies.