A dog that saved her family’s life by alerting them to a deadly tornado before it destroyed their Tennessee home has been found after nearly two months.
Eric Johnson was asleep March 3 when Bella, the family’s 6-year-old miniature Australian shepherd, woke him up. Johnson said he noticed Bella behaving extremely erratically, giving him a sense that “something just didn’t feel right.”
After turning on the TV, Johnson learned a tornado was headed toward their town of Cookeville. Nearly 45 minutes later, as the tornado neared their home, Johnson grabbed his wife and their children and hid them in a bathtub.
The father of three was looking for Bella when the tornado hit their house, tearing it into pieces and throwing Johnson into his backyard.
“Bella was hiding under our bed when the tornado hit our house,” Johnson told CNN. “She was thrown into our yard and survived and was missing after that. It was hard for us knowing she had survived but we couldn’t find her. She was the piece of our family that was missing.”
Just as they began to lose hope of finding her again, the family experienced another miracle. With the help of church friend Sarah Lang Romeyn, a dog tracker, Bella was found Sunday in an alley 4 miles from home.
Johnson and his wife had left pieces of clothing around their neighborhood in hopes Bella would be able to recognize the scent and find her way back. But Romeyn also set up cameras borrowed from a local animal rescue group in areas where people reported spotting her.
Eventually, using the footage, Romeyn discovered the spot where Bella was hiding.
Johnson, his brother-in-law and their pastor helped retrieve Bella. After 54 days of living on her own, the beloved pup was reunited with her family.
“The whole situation was incredible. I am so very grateful that I was position to be able to help him out.” Romeyn told CNN. “All I am is someone that has been blessed to have the skills that I have – unfortunately, although we use it, I’ve gotten really good at trapping dogs over the years.”
While Johnson suffered a head injury and his wife had broken ribs from the tornado, along with the loss of their home, he says the family is just grateful that they are finally together again.