Abby the dog disappeared for two months, then was rescued from the cave in Missouri

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Gerry Keene was 500 feet underground on a cave exploration adventure in Missouri when his headlamp shone on something he had never seen so deep in a cave: a dog.

She was skinny with matted fur and had curled up on a cold slab of rock, too weak to wag her tail or moan.

Keene had seen fish, frogs, and other small amphibians on his previous trips underground, but the last thing he expected to see was a dog. We didn’t know how long she had been stuck there.

“We realized it would be difficult to get her out because she was too weak to walk,” said Keene, 59, who was on a caving trip to Perryville, Mo., on Saturday with a small group that included several children.

He took a picture of the dog, then came out of the cave to call for help.

Just as an assistant fire chief arrived, nearby caving enthusiast Rick Haley overheard that a dog had been found inside the cave and needed rescue. He volunteered to go back into the dark with Keene and help get the pup out.

“It’s unclear how long she’s been there, but we knew we had to get her out,” said Haley, who had just surveyed 2,000 feet of passageways in the Tom Moore Cave system for the Cave Research Foundation.

Haley and Keene decided the only way to save the injured dog was to get down and carry him.

“If we didn’t get her out, she would die in there,” said Haley, 66, a caver with 30 years experience. “It would be a tough vertical climb to get her out. But we were up for it. »

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Before Keene returned to the cave with Haley, he showed the dog’s photo to residents who lived near the cave. One recognized her as Abby, a neighbour’s mixed-breed poodle who had gone missing on June 9.

Haley and Keene speculated that she might have chased an animal into the cave or that she might have been swept inside during a flash flood.

Knowing that someone was looking for her gave them even more motivation to come back for her.

They walked and crawled for about 15 minutes until they reached Abby, but it took them over an hour to carefully carry her through low, narrow tunnels to the surface in a backpack. padded sport, Haley said. The exhausted dog’s head was sticking out of the top.

“We had to move his hand over his hand because it was pretty tight and vertical,” Haley said, noting that at one point he and Keene had to slide through the mud in a long, pull-through tunnel. cork.

“It was tiring because it was the fourth trip to the cave that day,” Keene said. “But we just took it slow and easy.”

The cave tunnel system stretches approximately 22 miles, one of the longest in Missouri, known as the Cave State with over 7,300 recorded caves.

Abby was calm and relaxed as they moved her through the tight spaces, possibly because she knew she was being rescued, Haley said.

“She was also extremely weak and emaciated from lack of food,” he said. “She had water in the cave. Without it, she wouldn’t be here.

Both he and Keene noticed her claws were sharp and long, indicating she hadn’t walked in quite a while, he added.

When the couple surfaced with Abby, her grateful owner, Jeff Bohnert, 55, rushed to pick her up and carefully brought her home. He said a neighbor alerted him to the photo taken by Keene.

He was flabbergasted to learn that his adventurous dog had been found 500 feet underground, two months after he disappeared.

“I was absolutely amazed that she was still alive,” he said, noting that the cave is about two miles from his home. “She is a true survivor. It took some time for his eyesight to adjust after being in the dark for so long. But she comes back.

He and his wife, Kathy Bohnert, gently gave Abby a bath, and they made a large batch of chicken broth to feed her in small amounts.

“It had been a long time since she had eaten, so we gave her the broth in small amounts to get her stomach moving again,” Bohnert said. “She’s still quite weak, but she’s responding to nutrients.”

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He said that on the day of her disappearance, she was playing off-leash “in the country” with their other dog, Summer, as they like to do.

“Only one dog came home,” he said. “She’s pretty close to Summer, so I knew something was wrong when she didn’t come back. It was sad to know she was gone.

He said he looked for her and threw out the missing word, but was unlucky.

Abby has been part of their family for 14 years, ever since he got her as a puppy for his then 8-year-old daughter, Rachel Bohnert.

Abby is now able to take short walks on a leash and she seems happy to be reunited with her friend Summer and the family cat, Fuzzy, he said.

“We’re all so grateful to those two guys who pulled him out,” Bohnert said, noting that he gave the cavers a gallon of ice to help cool them down after the rescue.

Haley and Keene said they were happy to make the trip.

“If it hadn’t been for our cave projects this weekend, we never would have found this dog,” Haley said. “When my head finally hit the pillow that night, I fell asleep with a smile on my face.”

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