A team of several hundred people found and returned 3-year-old Mason Ryan to his family after a grueling 9-hour search, but the toddler wasn't discovered alone. It was Banjo, the family's rescued pooch, whose barking alerted rescuers to their location.
Banjo and Mason managed to wander more than a mile from their Virginia home, but the little dog never once left his side. The boy's mother says Mason was headed to his room when instead he exited the house in an effort to follow his dad, who was driving away. She was in another room and found her son missing when she returned.
Blake Ryan, Mason's dad, says it "crushed" him when it grew dark and he couldn't find him.
Banjo's barks eventually drew rescuers to the pair around 3 A.M. the next morning. After a visit to the hospital, Mason was doing just fine except for some scratches along his arms and legs. It's definitely not hard to see how much this kid's little dog loves him.
Ryan tells WSLS 10
[Banjo] brought my son back. He stayed with him through the woods and didn’t let him out of his sight and let the people know where he was.
The sheer relief at seeing the boy again left his grandma speechless:
I climbed over a fence and went down to where he was and I tried to talk to him then once he gave me that little smile I just busted down crying and just collapsed. I was just so relieved.
It's not often you find such a tiny rescue dog! Way to go, Banjo!
h/t NBC Los Angeles, featured image WSLS 10