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Friday, July 25 2014


Friends and Neighbors, over my lifetime, I've seen a lot of stuff. I play Twister over dead men for a living, and frankly it's just plain hard to impress me anymore, but last night did it. In the middle of a 10 hour drive back home from the ranch in North Texas, we received a text from the neighbor who'd been farmsitting for us down south.

Other Half's Border Collie, Cowboy, was missing. Since storms had moved through the area earlier, we assured the neighbor that the dog was merely hiding under the house, scared of the thunder. Thus we weren't concerned until we arrived home to blue skies, a setting sun, and no dog. That was a Very Bad Thing.

I called the dog and there was a distant answering bark from under the house. I called again. He barked. I searched inside the house. Perhaps he had broken a window during a storm and was now inside the house. Nope. Husband and I got down on our bellies with flashlights to check under the house. Didn't see him there. But then, he barked again. Ut oh! Clearly the dog was stuck under the bowels of the house. Slowly the horror began to sink in: The dog was stuck under a pier-and-beam house that only had about 8 inches of crawl space.

Where was he? How do we get him out? Had he managed to tear under the floorboards? Was his collar hung on something?

Clearly if we didn't get him out, he would die. Stuck. Under. The. House.

And I'm claustrophobic. I burst into tears. I burst into prayer. This was definitely beyond our scope. It didn't take long for me to make the leap into a hysterical, shaking, blubbering mess. It wasn't even my dog, but the thought of him dying under the house simply because we couldn't retrieve him sent me into a tailspin. (There's a reason why I don't watch "Trapped-In-Space/Trapped-Under-Water" movies. Imagining that shit is not fun!)

We couldn't figure out how to get him out, and yet, we couldn't leave him there. We couldn't even isolate his location. His barks were sporadic, and Husband kept reminding me that sound echoes under there which could fool us. And it did. Finally, desperate, we sent Dillon the Labrador under the house in search of rats. Dillon and Cowboy hate each other with a purple passion, but the 'plan' was to illuminate Dillon and watch his body language. When he got close to Cowboy, it would most certainly show in his posture. That was the plan.

In reality, Dillon  didn't get far enough under the house to find Cowboy, but he did cause Cowboy to erupt in a frenzy of strong barking. All right! We had a location. Under the kitchen! This presented a problem because we could clearly see with flashlights under the kitchen. No dog. He somehow must have crawled into the wall. Okayokayokayokayokay. . . . just breathe...

Now how do we get him out? My solution - go into the kitchen and start ripping the floor out.

Husband's solution - Other Half decided to put on a Tyvek suit and G.I. Joe like a Tunnel Rat in Vietnam to get his dog.

Do what?! DO WHAT?!! Yep. He zipped that suit up, slipped on some rubber gloves, got down on his belly, and slid under that house.

Alrightie then. Color me impressed. Every day I work with police officers and firemen - men and women who run toward danger when people with common sense are running the other way. I'm one of them. I've actively hunted drug dealers, rapists, and murderers. Now, as a CSI, I play Twister over dead men for a living, and frankly it's just hard to impress me, but that did it. Husband is a cop too, so normal cop stuff he does isn't impressive, it's just expected. Truthfully, if something goes bump in the night around here, both of us get up to check it out. No one gets a free pass to stay in bed and wait for the other one to patrol around the house with a baseball bat (read: gun).

But crawling under that house impressed me. Aside from the fact that the crawl space was ONLY 8 INCHES, because of the rain, there was standing water under the house. Factor in rats, snakes, spiders, and whatever the hell else lives under a house, and you get the picture. Folks, it takes real balls to crawl under that house in search of a dog.

But he did. Never underestimate a man's love for his dog. He crawled under that house - and he promptly got stuck.

And the only two flashlights we had were running out of juice quickly.

I had reached my tipping point. Hysterical, I called a friend, because that's what police officers do. They don't immediately call the fire department. They call each other. They call their friends. Then.... only when police officers are helplessly stuck, then and only then, will we call the fire department for help. It's a sibling rivalry thing.

So I called a friend. I called a former cop who does search and rescue work. He and I used to work on a SAR Team together. He is your go-to person when life bitch-slaps you or you make questionable decisions, and you need the cavalry to come with flashlights, saws, jacks, and moral support.  By the time he picked up the phone, I was crying so hard that he couldn't even understand me. This was a new experience for him. Bill has never seen me hysterical. It doesn't happen often, folks. But there it was. I was a puddle. I needed advice. I needed help. I needed somebody to stand in the dark with me.

It took a few minutes to relay the situation, but without hesitation, he offered help and assured me that he would gather his toys and head my way. Neither he nor I had any idea what we were going to do, but it made me feel better just to know that he was coming. God bless him! Folks, there are friends, and then there are the kind of friends you can call at any hour and they will come because that's the kind of fabric they're made from. And if you have people like that in your life, hang on to 'em. They're precious.

So there I was, standing in the dark, wiping tears, waiting on Bill, when I heard happy barking from under the house. Robby had managed to find Cowboy and free him! I called the dog. I could see him. He was dancing around the husband, wagging his tail and licking him. But he wasn't under the kitchen, he was deep under the bowels of the house. I called him again. Nope. He wouldn't leave Robby - who was stuck again. Lovely.

This was shaping up to be a fire department call after all. This is how folks end up on the 5 o'clock news. This is how folks end up on the yahoo news feed. Figures. There was a week's worth of grass that needed mowing in the yard, and the house was dirty. Whatever. Firemen see worse. And hey! The dog was finally free!

And given some time, and slick mud, the husband managed to inch-worm himself free too.

I called Dear Friend Bill to tell him the good news, and to tell him that he could stop loading up gear. It was time to praise God. Time for thanks. My prayers had been answered. It was time to give the husband a wet rag and a cold beer. And it was time to hug a muddy dog, and a muddy man.

 A boy & his dog

Posted by: forensicfarmgirl AT 08:55 am   |  Permalink   |  9 Comments  |  Email
I love that man!! The world needs more people in it just like him. I once read a quote, I beleive attributed to Mr. Rogers: when something bad and scary happens, some people run away, but if you look closely, usually more people run to the event to help. Thanks to everyone that ran to help. :)
Posted by Sheila Hribar on 07/25/2014 - 09:36 AM
Another of your stories that had me on the "edge of my seat". Wow... the photos - the looks on both their faces tell it all. Well done.
Posted by Linda Nightsky Farm on 07/25/2014 - 09:48 AM
I never know, when I start to read one of your posts, if I will be laughing my head off or crying big fat salty tears. This time it was the tears. My late husband was a Dallas firefighter and you are so right about the men and women that run INTO danger when everybody else (those with any good sense) are running away as fast as they can go. The world needs a lot more folks like that. Blessings to you, your husband, and Cowboy.
Posted by Virginia on 07/25/2014 - 10:30 AM
Yay! Thank goodness all ended well!
Posted by Claire S on 07/25/2014 - 01:08 PM
Tears of relief! Knowing you would not have written about it if something horrible happened did not make this any easier to read. BIG hugs for the muddy man! Have you thought of maybe some form of barrier around the base of the house to stop this from happening in the next storm? Hindsight is always 20/20 (and those of us in chairs are always so wise, NOT!)
Posted by Beth on 07/25/2014 - 01:44 PM
God, heart was racing and had tears of fear as I clung to my phone reading the story..I keep tellin you, you are a writer...God bless you and Robby..ya'll are good peebles ;)
Posted by ginger schuelke on 07/25/2014 - 04:45 PM
Great ending! What was Cowboy stuck on?
Posted by Joy on 07/25/2014 - 05:36 PM
It turned out that Cowboy was stuck on some concrete under the living room which is on a slab instead of on piers like everything else. There is a pocket that cannot be seen which explains why we couldn't see him with a flashlight.
Posted by forensicfarmgirl on 07/25/2014 - 06:16 PM
I want to thank everyone for all the kind words. The update is that everyone is fine. We'll be keeping Cowboy either inside or in a kennel run instead of the fenced yard to prevent future incidents. Putting a barrier around it would just give him something to tear down in an effort to get under the house in a storm.
Posted by forensicfarmgirl on 07/26/2014 - 09:25 AM

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