Rimma Bulatova went out for a walk with her dog, Raia, late Thursday afternoon in the woods around Aurora and became lost as darkness approached.
Battered by the strong winds and heavy rains that hit the area, she found shelter under a tree.
The 82-year-old woman didn’t think she could find her way home in the dark, so she turned to Raia and told the mixed breed dog to go home so that her family would come looking for her.
Raia obeyed – and several hours later, the woman was found safe.
That doesn’t surprise her daughter-in-law, Marina Antoch, who lives across the street.
In the past, after regular walks with Raia, Bulatova would unleash her and command the dog to “Go home.”
She always did.
“She did the same thing last night, and Raia came home,” Antoch said.
Bulatova’s family rescued Raia seven years ago from an owner who didn’t want the mixed breed female.
The family on Friday described Raia as returning the favor, the day after her actions helped authorities find Bulatova.
Family members and East Aurora Police Chief Shane Krieger explained what happened.
At about 4 p.m., Bulatova took Raia out for a walk on trails in the woods near Majors Park off of Sweet Road in the Town of Aurora.
“She normally takes the dog for a walk at that time of day,” he said. But Thursday, she went a little farther than normal.
“Before she knew it, it started to get dark and she got lost on the trails,” Krieger said.
The weather was miserable outside and it was dark. Bulatova found shelter under a tree. The wooded area is not far from the house, but it’s dense with trees. Bulatova became disoriented.
The woman told Raia – a dog the family shares – to go home so that her family would know where she was, police said.
Back at her house, meanwhile, the woman’s family was getting worried. It was 6:15 p.m. and she wasn’t back. Then, Raia came home without Bulatova.
The family called the police shortly after 7 p.m. and the East Aurora Police and Fire Departments, along with West Falls and Marilla fire departments, began a search. They went through a wooded, swampy area where the creeks were swollen with fast, high water due to the recent rain.
At 9:30 p.m., East Aurora firefighters found Bulatova in the woods located between Hubbard Road and Olean Road, within a mile from her house. She was wet and very cold, but safe.
Bulatova was evaluated by Rural Metro paramedics but declined to go to the hospital.
Antoch said Bulatova was tired but in fine condition.
As for Raia, she was rewarded with “plenty of kisses.”
“She has always been a friendly dog,” said Antoch. “Now she is a famous friendly dog.”