OPINION

Kodah, the smart dog that survived it all

Kodah, the smart dog that survived it all

We all hear stories of survival during the bushfires, but this is the story of how my brave dog Kodah beat all the odds.

Early one morning in October my family and I were evacuated as a terrifying bushfire swept around our town of Wytaliba, NSW.

The extreme weather conditions saw wind gusts of up to 80km per hour and there was black smoke all around our home. We knew it was time to leave.

With a full trailer of animals - chickens, ducks, birds, guinea pigs and even our fish in tow, we waited out the bushfire in Armidale.

After three weeks, we were told it was safe to return home. Miraculously, we came back to our property unscathed. We cautiously stayed on our property, with a close eye on the blaze that was burning 14km away from us.

At 7am on November 8, my friend Emily and I headed to Armidale for a doctor's appointment and locked up all our animals before we left. At 3pm I received a text from a friend warning me the bushfires had reached Wytaliba again.

We knew we had to return home and left immediately. Our home was gone. None of our animals had survived. All that remained were burnt ruins, the smell of smoke still fresh and lingering amidst the wreckage. Then something extraordinary happened.

Shaking in fear and covered in painful burns, I saw Kodah, my 18-month-old bulldog staffie. Against all odds, she had survived.

It would have been impossible to have outrun these fires, but Kodah was smart. She had dug an 80cm-deep hole next to the water tank and laid low as the fire raged around her.

Her story of survival is a miracle among the devastation. About 60 houses, including ours, in our community were burnt down. Worse still, tragically two lives were lost.

The conditions Kodah faced were not normal. Climate change is causing more extreme and severe bushfire seasons in Australia, which is having deadly consequences.

Tackling climate change through reducing pollution from fossil fuel burning in New South Wales and Australia is critical.

Despite it all, Kodah has made a miraculous recovery. Her burns have healed and she's acting her cheerful self again. But something needs to change.

As we look to rebuild from the bushfire, we must call on the federal government to act quickly on climate change, we've lost too much already.

Karlee Hillier is a Wytaliba resident and bushfire survivor.