Ask anyone to list three things they’d save if their house was on fire, and their pets will be right at the top. We may work hard for our possessions, but the family dog’s wagging tail and warm greeting is the best part about coming home.

Julie and Cory Kuntz missed a deadly mudslide in their town of Darrington, Wash., when they went out to watch their son Quinton’s baseball game. Their chocolate lab Buddy and cat remained at home.

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They returned to find their house completely devastated and strewn 150 feet from its base. Tragically, their aunt and next-door-neighbor Linda perished in the slide. Though lucky to survive, they assumed they’d lost everything but their lives.

Later, when they returned to the scene and sorted through the wreckage, they heard a soft whining. Buddy was alive! For the first time since the disaster, the Kuntz family had reason to smile and laugh, and Buddy wagged his tail at the sight of his family.

The family never found their own cat, but their aunt Linda’s emerged later on. After the relief and joy they felt reuniting with Buddy, they are now getting involved in rescue efforts to help other families find their lost pets.

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