Have you ever felt a rush of panic when your dog slipped away from you? Karen Smith was panicked when her foster puppy slipped away and she didn’t know where she had gone. When she discovered the pup’s location, she didn’t know how she could retrieve her. Read about the dramatic rescue.
17. A Rainy Day
Karen Smith is a foster mom for the dog rescue group A New Leash in Life located in Huntsville, Alabama. One day in July 2018, she and her four Australian Shepherd mix puppies — Toffee, Snickerdoodle, Brickle and Cotton Candy — were restless as it had been raining all day. Finally, it let up and Smith decided to let the pups play outside, but then tragedy struck.
16. Playtime Cut Short
The dogs were romping outside having a good time as Smith and a friend were watching them. Toffee saw them and came bounding up out of excitement, then suddenly she fell! As Smith told The Dodo, “she just went straight down.”
15. Where Had Toffee Gone?
Smith and her friend went to see where Toffee had gone. One moment the puppy was there, and the next, she was gone. Where had the little pup gone? They soon discovered that Toffee had slipped into a hole located between a pile of rocks.
14. Discovering the Hole
They’d never seen the hole before and it looked like it was a cave opening. How had it gotten there? Smith finally concluded that the deluge of rain had eroded the spot and caused the hole. Toffee had just happened to fall in.
13. Rescue Attempt
Smith looked to see if she could possibly just move a few rocks and reach down to retrieve the puppy. She could hear Toffee whining and knew the puppy was scared. She could call down to the puppy to reassure her but it wouldn’t do any good as Toffee was fully deaf.
12. Can They Reach Her?
She and her friend decided to try moving the rocks. They pushed one aside and spied a ledge located about 4 or 5 feet down. Only the puppy wasn’t there. She grabbed a flashlight and looked down further.
11. Toffee Stuck
There, way below her reach at around 35 feet, was Toffee. Smith decided to see if she could fit into the hole. While she attempted to rescue the pup, Toffee continued to panic and whine. It didn’t work, the hole was too tight. Smith wasn’t able to fit down the cracks and thus she came back out.
10. Calling for Help
It was time to call for reinforcement. Smith and her husband dialed 911 for help. The first responders quickly showed up on the scene but they were all at a loss on how to help. The hole was too tight, and they weren’t experienced with this difficult a rescue. So they made another call.
9. Cave Rescue
The next call? The Huntsville Cave Rescue Unit. These seasoned cave rescuers could help and understood how to launch a rescue mission. By now it was 9 pm and was getting dark, but they pressed on with the rescue.
8. No Luck
The first rescuer was unable to reach Toffee but another came on the scene. She too couldn’t fit and since it was so dark, they had to end their rescue efforts for the night. Smith made sure Toffee had food and water but she was frantic. Would they be able to get the puppy out safely?
7. Toffee Alone
Smith hated to leave Toffee alone but she had no choice. Shining a flashlight down in the hole, she was able to see Toffee curl up and sleep. Smith slept about 4 hours until she was back at the hole checking on Toffee.
6. Trying Again
The next day, Smith had backup from the folks at A New Leash on Life. They phoned the media and made the community aware of the puppy’s plight. The media descended on the property and started sharing Toffee’s ordeal. Suggestions came and people started showing up, eager to help!
All of the suggestions were considered and either tried or rejected. Finally, someone suggested making a snare out of a set of plastic wires. Once Toffee approached the snare, they could snag her and gently pull her up out of the hole. But there was a problem.
4. Sleepy Toffee
The little puppy was exhausted and it was understandable, she’d been through a lot. Now it was just about midnight and she was falling asleep. They needed to wake her up to get her to go into the snare. But the puppy was deaf…she wouldn’t respond to their noise. What could they do?
A rescuer spoke up with an idea: sardines. He had a can of sardines in his truck. Maybe their smell would wake up the puppy. It was worth a shot! Sure enough, the smell woke up Toffee and she walked right into the snare. Smith was happy to have her puppy back safe in her arms.
2. Thanking Everyone
Smith couldn’t say thank you enough to all of the people who came out and helped with the rescue mission. She excitedly hugged Toffee to her chest then reunited the puppy with her siblings. Her foster mom couldn’t believe her luck, especially since Toffee wasn’t able to hear.
1. A Happy Ending
Despite her ordeal, Toffee was in great health. The only issue was a tick in her ear but she didn’t have any scrapes or scratches. And the cave rescue helped her find a new home — one of the rescuers took her home when she was ready to be adopted. Soon, she’ll start service dog training and will hopefully be a service dog to a child. How’s that for a happy ending?