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Three Men, a Lost Dog and a Happy Ending

On an ordinary caving expedition, Gerry Keene came across an extraordinary find: a dog in need of rescue 

spinner image From left: Gerry Keene, Jeff Bohnert and Rick Haley with Abby at the mouth of the cave
From left: Gerry Keene, Jeff Bohnert and Rick Haley with Abby at the mouth of the cave.
WHITNEY CURTIS

Gerry Keene: Last August, I was with a group of 11 people in the second-­longest cave in Missouri.

Rick Haley: I had stayed on the surface, in case of any problems below.

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Keene: About 20 minutes in, I heard the kids up ahead call, “Hey, there’s a dog!” She was so weak, all she could do was lift her head.

Jeff Bohnert: Abby is a 14-year-old poodle-­hound mix. One night in June, our other dog came home without her. We looked all over for Abby, but it was like she had vanished.

Haley: Gerry came out of the cave and called the assistant fire chief. He put out the word that a dog had been found, and we entered the cave.

spinner image left abby a dog lost in a cave right rick haley who put the dog in a duffel bag
Left: Weak and emaciated, Abby shocked a group of cavers passing through. Right: Haley had the foresight to bring a duffel bag, and the dog crawled in.
Courtesy Rick Haley

Keene: We had to crawl forward on our bellies, then backward, then descend a corkscrew formation with a 40-foot drop in order to reach her.

Haley: Abby was skin and bones, but she sat up. I had brought a leash, but she wouldn’t come with us. That’s when I took out a duffel bag, and she stepped in. She knew we were there to help her.

Keene: We zipped to where her head was sticking out, then we gingerly passed her back and forth as we made our way out.

Haley: The sunlight must have been blinding for her. It didn’t seem like she could see much. But when she saw Jeff, she walked over to him.

Bohnert: I picked her up. She was featherlight. She normally weighs 45 or 50 pounds, and she was down to about 20. She’s a survivor. I know she must have suffered down there in that cave alone, though. I wonder, God, what’s the purpose in this? Maybe it’s this story. It gives people hope, you know?

spinner image left gerry keene hoisting abby through tight passages right abby back in the sunlight
Left: Keene helped hoist the pup through tight passages and past perilous drops. Right: Abby perked up as soon as she saw daylight — and had devoured a beef stick.
Courtesy Rick Haley

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