Proud dog owner Kerry McKinnon, 45, got the shock of her life after discovering the tiny koala joey snuggled up with her five-year-old Golden Retriever Asha on Monday.
The mum-of-three, from Strathdownie in Victoria, said the koala likely became separated from its mother during the night and wandered onto her back porch, finding comfort in Asha’s warm fur.
Temperatures in the area dropped to 5 degrees. Ms McKinnon said the helpless koala joey “never would have made it through the night” if it hadn’t been cuddled up to Asha.
“It was quite early in the morning, and my husband yelled out to me to come have a look at something,” she said.
“I didn’t know what he was talking about at first but then I saw this tiny koala snuggled on top of Asha.
Ms McKinnon said she burst out laughing and her “poor” dog “didn’t know what to think” and appeared confused.
“She looked a bit guilty when I came out to see what was going on. Her expression was hilarious,” she said.
“She kept looking back at the koala but she wasn’t trying to get him off her or anything. She was happy to let him snuggle into her.”
Ms McKinnon believes the koala fell out of its mother’s pouch and may have wondered over to the family’s back porch to where the dogs sleep.
“Asha definitely saved the koala’s life by keeping him warm,” she said.
“He would have died out there if left alone all night. The poor thing could have been taken by a fox or something too.”
The 45-year-old said it wasn’t easy trying to separate the two – with the koala putting up a “huge fuss” when she tried to remove it from Asha’s back.
She added the little joey is doing well after being checked out by a vet – and is now being looked after by a local koala carer until it can be released back into the wild.
“I think dogs have that protective instinct,” Ms McKinnon said.
“The koala didn’t want to leave Asha’s back.
“When we took the koala off to wrap it in a blanket, it hissed at me and carried on.
“I think it would have been happy to have just slept there all day. It was really an amazing thing to see and so uniquely Australian.”
The golden retriever’s heroic feat has since gone viral on social media, with the adorable photos of the unlikely duo racking up hundreds of likes and shares online.