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.
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.
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?