It’s a story of survival against all odds that has captivated the world’s attention.

Four children — Lesly Jacombaire Mucutuy, 13; Soleiny Jacombaire Mucutuy, 9; Tien Noriel Ronoque Mucutuy, 4; and one-year-old Cristin Neriman Ranoque Mucutuy — were found alive one month after the plane they were traveling in crashed deep in the Amazon jungle on May 1.  

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The children are safe and under the care of doctors in a military hospital in Bogota. 

Still, the dog who led the rescuers to the children, a six-year-old Belgian Shepherd Malinois named Wilson, has yet to return home. 

Like many people worldwide, Colombians are now on tenterhooks, hoping that Wilson, who is still lost in the jungle, will be found. 

Local media is calling Wilson a “four-legged hero,” and his disappearance made international news. A popular hashtag has spread on Twitter, #vamosporwilson — let’s go find Wilson — and has 39k views as of publication.  

“Jamas se abandona a un compañero (we never abandon a mate),” major general Helder Fernán Giraldo Bonilla, commander of the Colombian Armed Forces, said in a recent interview. 

A tragedy landing in the Amazon 

In May, the family had taken off from Araracuara, the Amazonas province, heading to San Jose del Guaviere. The Cessna 206 pilot radioed a May Day alert to the control tower saying he had engine issues minutes after taking off from the area deep inside the Amazon. 

After two weeks of searching, rescue teams found the bodies of the children’s mother, Magdalena Mucutuy, a second adult, and the pilot. Half-eaten fruit and a baby bottle among the debris showed the children were still alive.

In the thick of the Amazon jungle, the children of the Huitoto Indigenous community faced the threat of jaguars, snakes, mosquitos, torrential rains, and armed drug smuggling groups. 

They survived on fruits, roots, and plants they knew they could eat because of their upbringing, Luis Acosta of the National Indigenous Organization of Colombia told AFP news agency.

But it was Wilson, the wonder dog, who led rescuers to the children. Wilson first discovered the baby’s bottle and then left tracks for the search team that led to the survivors.

Wilson saved the children’s lives, but his own could still be in jeopardy

Military sniffer dog, Wilson, is a Belgian Malinois. This breed is intelligent, confident, and versatile; a hard-working canine who forms a lifelong bond with his human partner.

The video below shows how well-trained Wilson is to take part in rescue efforts.

Wilson’s mission was to map out the route where the children would have walked. His trained sense of smell turned up the first clue — a baby bottle. 

Rescuers gave the dog the smell of the baby, who turned one year old in the jungle. Wilson led the rescuers to the baby bottle. This finding was evidence that the children were still alive. 

Now, it’s Wilson that is lost. The search team almost caught up with him last Saturday, June 10. As of that sighting, the dog was alive. 

The Colombian search teams will not stop until no one is left behind, and that means Wilson, a member “of the commando.”

Depicting her first 40 days in the jungle, Lesly, the oldest child survivor, made a drawing of Wilson from her hospital bed.