NERRIGUNDAH, Australia — Ash Graham’s dog, Kozi, wakes him at 8 a.m., eager for his morning walk. Then Graham realizes he was dreaming, and gets up from the one-man tent he’s been sleeping in each night since a wildfire swept through his village on New Year’s Eve.
Graham, a volunteer firefighter, resumes his weary search for Kozi: hiking south down the dried-up creek bed, past the wallabies that were burned to death as they fled the fire, knocking on doors, trying to keep track of the grids he’s already covered.
Graham’s Austrian wife, Melanie, died from cancer a year or so ago, and his house burned down in the Dec. 31 fire. His truck and his few belongings are with him in the yard of the fire station, the last place he saw Kozi. Graham had left his dog at the station and was driving around warning people to leave when 3-year-old Kozi bolted as flames approached the building.
“He’s my little man. He’s been there for me,” Graham said, his face crumpling. “I can’t give up, really, until I find him.”