Sherry Noppe, a resident of Katy, Texas, went missing after going on a walk with her dog Max last Tuesday, prompting volunteers in the community to mobilize for her safe return.
Noppe, 63, lives with mid-stage Alzheimer’s and search crews believed that she became lost and confused in George Bush Park, a wooded area.
A Facebook page dedicated to finding Noppe had over 9,000 members. Local residents searched for Noppe on foot and using ATVs for three days until she was found Friday morning.
Noppe’s three adult children held a news conference after their mother’s safe return and said tracking dogs had been used to pinpoint Noppe’s general area.
Volunteers then parked their ATVs and searched on foot. One volunteer Michael England said in an interview with KHOU that search teams were struck when they heard a dog’s bark in the distance.
“We just kind of stayed around that area and then just walked further back in there. Eventually, we heard the dog bark again and again and we found her back there,” England recounted.
“Just overwhelming to find her, just happy,” England said, speaking about the relief he felt that Noppe was reunited with her family. He noted that the Texas mother wasn’t severely disoriented and he was “amazed at how strong she was.”
Noppe’s daughter Courtney couldn’t believe the news when she heard that her mom was found. “I wanted a picture. When I got a picture, I started calling everyone,” she said.
“He saved her life, that dog,” Courtney added.
Noppe’s son Justin said their mom was about 50 yards off-trail when she was found in George Bush Park. He was amazed that the “hero” dog Max stuck with Noppe the entire time she was missing.
“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 the police deputies involved with finding their mom but were blown away at the generosity of the volunteers who came out to help.
“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.
Noppe’s children confirmed that their mom is being evaluated in hospital for dehydration and some minor cuts and bruises as of Wednesday.
“She’s doing surprisingly well for how long she’s been out there and the conditions, the heat the rain,” Courtney said.
The dog Max is also doing fine after a trip to the vet.
Justin confirmed that Max was actually originally owned by Noppe’s son, his brother, who died two years ago.
“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.”