(TMU) — As Australia’s unprecedented bushfire crisis continues to rage, the country’s heroes have stepped forward to perform amazing feats.
And this is no less the case for certain canines than it is for anyone else—especially when it comes to Patsy, a 6-year-old sheepdog credited with rescuing over 200 sheep threatened by the blazes.
On New Year’s Eve, farmer Stephen Hill was watching the growing fires as it began to threaten his cousin’s farm in the small Victoria town of Corryong, NBC News reports.
Hill arrived at the farm at roughly 4:15 a.m. before linking up with Patsy, who quickly gave direction to Hill’s efforts to save the herds of sheep from the encroaching wall of fire.
Once Hill and Patsy reached the sheep, they quickly began corralling them into a nearby barn.
“If you haven’t got a good dog, you can’t do so much with the sheep.
They’re really difficult to move in any way, shape, or form unless you have a good dog.”
View this post on Instagram
This is Patsy just after she and her human brought the sheep to safety on the morning of New Year’s Eve. Cool as a cucumber, Patsy waited with him until the fire got close enough to fight with a tractor and water pump. What a team! #patsythecorryongwonderdog #strongincorryong
Thanks to the pluck and skill of Patsy—along with her keen night vision—all but six out of a flock of 220 survived the ordeal, Hill said.
“A lot of livestock were killed out here or had to be euthanized. Some have lost hundreds of cattle. It has made me emotional.”
Since the fire crisis broke out in September, at least 27 people have been killed and countless thousands forced to evacuate—often repeatedly—as the historic wave of bushfires ripped through 25.5 million acres (10.3 million hectares) of land.
Ecologists at the University of Sydney estimate that over 1 billion animals have been killed in the bushfires—ranging from wildlife to pets and livestock—potentially destroying ecosystems and forever tipping the balance for whole species.
While Hill has felt extreme strain from the “devastating” fires, he still feels fortunate to have avoided the worst in terms of damage to life and property—thanks in no small part to Patsy. He added:
“I’m really lucky. I have minimal damage.”
Hill’s sister, Cath Hill, complimented Patsy as a “wonder dog” for her feats while lamenting the ongoing fires that have turned the rural area into something akin to a war zone.
View this post on Instagram
Many people have asked for the original video of Patsy to be put up, so here it is….when I stood in this burnt black paddock after the fire ripped through our family farm in Corryong, all I wanted to do was show our friends and family that we were ok, that we were still here, and that even in all the devastation we still had so much to be grateful for. So many others have lost quite literally everything they have. I never dreamed that these 20 seconds of Patsy in a paddock would spread across the world, and that me posting pictures of a little black and white dog would become my way to help my hometown recover from the worst fires in living memory. It’s funny how life works sometimes… These fires are not over. Not even close to being over. They will burn for weeks, months even, and communities all over Australia are going to be hit just like Corryong has been. Our fire season here isn’t even half way through, and it seems like nowhere is safe. It’s easy to feel helpless. But, it’s also easy to help. Make a donation to bushfire relief, no matter how small it is, trust me it will be appreciated. Every little bit helps!
Cath told Metro UK that the horrible nature of the crisis is why the Hill family publicized Patsy’s feats on Instagram, explaining:
“It’s like Armageddon.
Everyone is just trying to get water and feed to their animals, shoot the ones that can’t be saved, get temporary fences up to keep stock secure, and put out all the logs and stumps still burning.
It’s unbelievable and it’s only going to get worse. That’s why we put Patsy’s story out there … People need something positive.”
Indeed, amid the troubling news from Australia, Patsy’s example is shining proud.
Typos, corrections and/or news tips? Email us at [email protected]