Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Charlie's Traumatic Evening

About 8 PM I heard Charlie barking from the north, and my suspicion that he'd escaped was confirmed when I saw his gate open. I wasn't too worried; he has gotten loose several times, and he circles the fenced areas, marking and barking, never leaving our property.

I went out at 9:30 to collect him from the driveway and take him back to his retirement area - but he wasn't there. This was a deviation from his pattern, and I couldn't hear him barking. Worried now - Charlie is old and has very bad hips - I got on the quad and went looking for him.

The Universe was with us, as I went directly to the railroad cut and a short ways in thought I heard a high-pitched whine. I turned off the engine to listen, and it was definitely a whimper. I found Charlie in the ditch at the side of the track.

The ditch is about 5' deep here, with about 2' of water. When I stepped down to help Charlie out water streamed into my boots. Cold, murky water. Poor Charlie was cold and frightened, and couldn't get his rear end to work at all. I tried to lift his rear and help him climb out, but he was too weak and the bank too steep.

I got a sheet to wrap around his belly and several ropes, thinking maybe I could lift him with one hand and pull myself up the bank with the other. Needless to say, that did not work well. I called my neighbor to help, but got voice mail. Charlie and I stood in the ditch discussing the situation, trying to figure out how to make this work.

Then the phone rang. Damien had returned, and was at the gate. With his help we lifted Charlie out of the creek, got the van down, lifted him into the van, and got him back home. I don't know what I would have done without help.

I got Charlie settled and covered with blankets, water and food nearby. I stayed with him until he calmed down and I thought he'd sleep. When I got into the house I realized I was soaking wet with water still in my boots. Too tired to shower, I climbed into warm dry sweats and under my down comforter. It took ages for me to warm up and get to sleep.

This morning we are both pretty well recovered. Charlie can stand up again, although it will be awhile before he's back to playing with me. I am amazed that I found him so quickly, that my neighbor came home just as I left a message, and we were able to get 120 lb of dog out of the ditch and back to safety.

There are so many things to be grateful for.

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