During a typical bachelor party, you can expect some competitive games, raunchy jokes, and a whole lot of crushed beer cans littering the floor. That’s exactly what these Michigan guys had on their agenda when they set off to celebrate their best friend’s upcoming nuptials.
Deep in the woods, however, a lurking figure was watching them with keen interest. Once the guys figured out what they were dealing with, their priorities for their getaway completely shifted. It turned out that forest was full of secrets!
In 2016, Mitchel Craddock couldn’t wait for the biggest day of his young life. The Vicksburg, Michigan, man was weeks away from his wedding, but he had a few items to cross off his list before tying the knot.
In particular, Mitchel had his bachelor party coming up! It would give him some quality time with his best buds before he settled into the married life, but he asked his pals to keep it simple. Of course, nothing ever goes according to plan.
He and six friends drove down to a Tennessee cabin, which would serve as their home base while they did some serious four-wheeling. It was the perfect spot to relax, as it seemed like there was nobody else around for miles.
Once they arrived, the bros agreed they had to fuel up as if they were going to party for the next five days. Naturally, Mitchel plopped an economy pack of bacon on the stove, and its greasy aroma wafted through the window…where more than just the friends caught a whiff.
YouTube / David Herbert
See, while the bachelors all savored the bacon scent, it turned out they weren’t the only ones. The festivities suddenly came to a halt when one of Mitchel’s friends pointed to a furry face that appeared by the front door.
A dog appearing out of nowhere — that sounded like the best bachelor party ever! The friends dubbed her Annie, after Little Orphan Annie. While they hoped she’d keep them company while they played drinking games, Annie refused to even come inside.
Instead, Annie barked repeatedly and ran in circles outside the cabin. When Mitchel and his friends wandered out to investigate, the dog bolted back into the woods. She was easy to follow, as she left a trail of pawprints in the mud.
Mitchel finally caught up to Annie, who was pacing around a small hollow in the forest. As he heard a slight rumbling from inside, the groom-to-be put two and two together.
Peering inside, he locked eyes with a newborn puppy! He looked pretty malnourished, so Mitchel reached down to lend a hand. However, he froze when he noticed something extraordinary.
Annie had led them to not just one puppy, but her entire litter! Seven helpless canines gazed up lovingly at the friends. By all appearances, they’d been out in the wilderness for a few days without food or shelter. Their rescuers would have to act fact.
The partiers whisked the canines back to their cabin. Taking the pooled money they planned on using for beer and pizza, they made a run to the store and stocked up on pet supplies.
Maybe some guys would resent their bachelor weekend turning into a puppy extravaganza, but not Mitchel. A lifelong dog lover, he welcomed the unexpected guests with open arms. Still, he had a few questions.
MLive / Bryan Bennett
None of the dogs were wearing collars, and yet they appeared to be domesticated. Were they all runaways from some nearby house, or did they just have no place to go?
MLive / Bryan Bennett
With the limited resources available in the cabin, Mitchel and his pals cared for the dogs as best they could for the remaining days of their trip. It was clear, however, that the animals required medical attention after spending days in the forest.
Back home, Mitchel brought the pups to the vet. Fortunately, they didn’t have any problems beyond slight malnutrition and a few nasty bugs. There still remained the matter of a potential owner, of course. The boys sent photos of the dogs all around.
Animal Humane Society
After a few weeks, Mitchel heard nothing but radio silence. That made it official — the dogs were all theirs! Each attendee of the bachelor party could take home a puppy, though that still left a dog left over…
That, however, turned out to be no problem at all. Mitchel’s mom gladly accepted the final dog, while each of the cabin boys got to name their own puppy. That’s not a bad party favor!
MLive / Bryan Bennett
Even after Mitchel’s big day, the dogs did a fantastic job of keeping this friend group together. Though life pulled them in different directions, they always had a reason to set up a canine play date.
For Mitchel, it also set him up with a nice little family right before he married his wife! Though he was a hero for rescuing those pups, he knew his own pooch could someday return the favor.
Facebook / Mitchel Craddock
Another dog named Max, for instance, is proof that ordinary dogs can do great things for their families. In his salad days, Max could run around herds of cattle with the best of them. But even as the years passed by, the dog still had greatness in him. All he needed was the right moment to prove it.
In 2018, the Australian Cattle Dog — also known as a Blue Heeler — reached 17 years of age! It showed on him, too. Max had become partially blind and completely lost his hearing.
Gold Coast Bulletin
But that was okay; he still had a loving family. His favorite member was three-year-old Aurora, and he acted as her consummate companion and playmate. Max had watched over her since she was a newborn, after all.
Aurora lived happily with her grandmother Leisa and her uncle Jake, who took great care of Max as well. In their isolated area of Warwick, Queensland, they really only had each other to rely on.
While Jake and Leisa were busy working or doing chores around the house, Aurora liked to play in the yard. She never strayed far from the windows, so her older relatives didn’t worry about her being out by herself.
Besides, Max usually tagged along on Aurora’s outdoor adventures. Having lost a step or two in his advanced age, he often lagged a bit behind. The Blue Heeler never lost sight of the girl, however — until one April afternoon.
For whatever reason, Aurora wandered far beyond her usual circuit that day. Maybe she was chasing a bug through the tall grass, or simply made a wrong turn. Either way, she didn’t realize she’d gotten off track.
But when she finally took in her surroundings, Aurora understood exactly what kind of predicament she was in. Her house was nowhere in sight. She was utterly alone. With a gasping sob, the little girl collapsed to the unforgiving ground.
Not long after, Leisa noticed that Aurora wasn’t out in the yard. She must’ve come inside to play, the grandmother figured. However, the girl wasn’t in her room either. Holding back panic, Leisa notified the police.
Paul Matthew Carr
Within hours, the police assembled a search party to track down Aurora. Dozens of volunteers came out from around Warwick, but with hundreds of acres of ground to cover, would they be enough?
The Daily Examiner
The team scoured the Australian countryside, but with no success. As night fell, rain and sleet came down, making tracking the little girl even more challenging. Even if they didn’t say it out loud, Leisa and Jake’s hopes began to dwindle.
What the search party didn’t realize, however, was that they weren’t the only ones on Aurora’s trail. Max also set off to find her shortly after she disappeared. With his dulled senses, the Blue Heeler would have to operate on pure intuition.
The Australian wilderness posed a number of threats to both Max and Aurora. Aside from the obvious dangers of exposure and starvation, the environment was chock-full of predators. One sudden snake bite would stop him in his tracks.
But, against all odds, Max came across Aurora! She gave him a big hug, and then the two of them huddled against a rock for warmth. They could only hope help would arrive soon.
National Park Service
The next morning, Leisa was almost despondent. She’d split off from the other searchers to probe the deepest vegetation. She called out Aurora’s name every few seconds, desperate for a response. There was no response.
But then she called out again, and, from far away, heard a faint voice. Suddenly energized, Leisa turned toward a nearby hill where she’d heard the sound. As she ran up, shouting out for Aurora, Max miraculously popped out to greet his owners.
Leisa called Jake over, and the two of them followed the elderly dog uphill. Too excited to question why her 17-year-old dog had appeared, she followed him. Her jaw dropped when he led her and Jake directly to Aurora. She grabbed her granddaughter in a bear hug!
Still, the family wasn’t out of the woods yet. After spending 15 hours out in the elements, they had to make sure the little girl wasn’t in any more danger. Leisa and Jake called in the paramedics to examine the three-year-old.
Though it was hard to believe, Aurora was virtually unscathed from her time out in the open. A warm meal and a couple of days rest would set her right. Of course, she probably never would’ve survived if her half-blind dog hadn’t tracked her down.
The entire town of Warwick hailed Max as a hero, and the authorities even named him an honorary police canine! Nobody expected it, but this old dog learned more than a few new tricks.