It was a story that weighed heavily on the hearts and minds of people in the midst of a global pandemic: a four-year-old girl and her dog reported lost in the Alabama woods. Young Evelyn “Vadie” Sides had vanished while walking with her dog Lucy in the rural countryside last Wednesday, and remained missing for nearly 48 hours. Fortunately, the story had a good ending; Vadie was found on Friday, unharmed and only a little the worse for wear.
“We took a walk but then I got too fast and got running and got lost and then I started calling for Nanny but Nanny was too far,” Vadie said in a video her family posted Saturday morning.
The child said she and Lucy once were separated but eventually reunited.
“I slided, slided down a waterfall … I was brave not to go in,” while the dog ran away, Vadie said.
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“I found her because I was going the right direction, because I could smell,” she added.
“I slept by a road one, the first night, and … and the second night I slept where they found me.”
From the moment word got out about the child’s disappearance, hundreds of volunteers and police officers came forward to assist the Lee County Sheriff’s Department in finding her. The search for the little girl began Wednesday night and continued Thursday and Friday with the aid of helicopters, drones, tracking dogs and people on horseback. Then, on Friday afternoon, a search party heard a dog bark—it was Lucy. As the searchers approached, Vadie popped up from her resting place on the ground, awakened from a nap. “She was just sitting,” Lee County Sheriff Jay Jones said. “The dog was with her. The dog barked and bolted.”
Young Vadie was in good spirits and seemingly in good health after being checked out by emergency medics. “She did not present as scared. She was animated and talkative and chowing down the last time I saw her in the back of the ambulance. Tough little girl,” said Sheriff Jones.
“We needed this badly; this was really good, solid, positive news in a time when I think people need it the most, with all the medical concerns going on,” added Jones.
Many questions remain unanswered regarding the details of the duo’s adventure. But it is easy to imagine the comfort and protection that the Mountain Cur affectionately called “Lu” provided her young charge.
While we will never fully know the dimensions of care the dog offered, it is clear that Lucy stuck with the young child and did not abandon her. Who knows what predators Lucy may have chased away during their ordeal? Or if the two found warmth by huddling together during the chilly nights? In a way, it’s better that it remain a mystery, allowing us to fill in the missing time in our minds.
I imagine the chatty little girl camping out with her canine best friend without fear or panic. She had her co-pilot at her side—brave indeed.
Postscript: After running away from the rescue scene, spooked no doubt by the hundreds of searchers, Lucy found her way home and is safe and sound.