A Texas woman with Alzheimer's who went missing last week has been found by members of her community – who were able to trace her thanks to her dog's bark. Sherry Noppe went for a walk with her dog, Max, last Tuesday and never returned, prompting her family and other volunteers to search for her.
Noppe, 63, has mid-stage Alzheimer's and could have been confused, KHOU reports. She was believed to be in George Bush Park in Katy, Texas, and volunteers searched the area on foot and ATVs for nearly three days. A "Find Sherry" Facebook group with more than 9,000 members was also used to get the word out and mobilize volunteers.
Noppe's three adult children held a news conference after their mother was found Friday morning. Her daughter, Courtney, said tracking dogs had been used in the search and were following a scent.
With an area pinpointed, volunteers turned off their ATVs and started walking – and that's when one heard a bark.
"We heard a dog bark off in the distance and we just kind of stayed around that area," volunteer Michael England said in an interview with KHOU. The dog kept barking and volunteers followed the sound until they found Noppe, England said.
"Just overwhelming to find her, just happy," he said, adding that Noppe wasn't severely disoriented, but definitely lost and didn't know what to do. He said he was amazed at how strong she was.
Courtney said when she was informed that someone had found her mom, she didn't believe it. "I wanted a picture. When I got a picture, I started calling everyone," she said.
"He saved her life, that dog," Courtney said. "He's our hero," her son, Justin, added.
Justin said their mom was found about 50 yards off the trail in George Bush Park in the woods. "That dog had no leash, no collar and stayed by her side for three days," he said. "That just shows you that loyalty that dog has. He was never going to leave her side."
Noppe's children thanked volunteers and law enforcement agencies who searched tirelessly until their mom was found. "Couldn't ask for better people in my life," Courtney said.
"It just shows the people they are. They'd go out there, spend their whole day, whole night, taking off work, whatever they have to do to drop their lives, just to help us bring our mother home," Justin said of the volunteers.
"It was like it was everyone's mother, not just our mother," Justin said of the commitment from the community to bring Noppe home.
Noppe's other daughter said their mom was still at the hospital and being evaluate, but other than dehydration and some cuts and bruises, she was doing well. "She's doing surprisingly well for how long she's been out there and the conditions, the heat the rain," Courtney said. Max was taken to the vet, but doing fine, they said.
Max was actually the dog of Noppe's son, who died two years ago, Justin said. "He had him as a puppy and after he passed, our parents took him in," Justin said. "He's sentimental in that way. He is our brother's dog, he's the last part we have of him. So, if we would lose our mother and our dog, it's a blow to our family. So, to get them both back is the silver lining in all of this."
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