03/06/2013 at 09:30 AM EST
Forget diamonds – a dog in Poland proved to be a girl's best friend.
Rescue workers were able to find a 3-year-old girl
, named Julia, who went missing overnight in Pierzwin, Poland, thanks to the barks of her "best friend," a stray black dog who often accompanies her.
The toddler wandered into the forest
near her home after playing in her backyard with the pooch Friday evening. While members of the community searched for her, the dog stayed by her side
and kept her warm throughout the freezing cold night. She was discovered Saturday morning in the marshes.
"This dog is the most important part of this story; he is a hero," said firefighter Grzegorz Szymanski. "It is thanks to this dog that the girl survived the night."
Julia's grandmother, Danuta Balak, added that her granddaughter is rarely seen without the mutt.
"She didn't go anywhere without it," Balak said. "When she was with me, when I was looking after her, she constantly said, 'Granny, the dog needs to come in the house.' And she told me to cut bread and she fed it all the time."
Julia is currently being treated for symptoms of frostbite, and is on the mend.