When a group of cavers visited Dewey Hickman Nature Preserve in Indiana on Sept. 4, they were met with an adventure of a different sort and became rescuers.
As they hiked, checking out the various formations, they spotted something moving at the bottom of a 30-foot-deep pit.
It was a dog, and it was skinny and dirty. The group had no idea how long it had been down in the pit, but based on its condition they later guessed around two weeks. They used their rappelling gear to get to the pup and hoist it up.
The next day the dog — who they dubbed Dewey — was taken to the Harrison County Animal Control. Animal control got him medical attention and shared his story.
“The cavers believe that the dog now named Dewey may have originally been caught by his collar on a branch as he fell, as there appeared to be scratch marks about halfway down the shaft,” they wrote in a post on Facebook. “We believe the dog was eventually able to wiggle free and dropped to the bottom of the cave.
“The cavers reported there was an empty turtle shell at the bottom of the cave, which may have helped collect rain water which kept Dewy alive.”
April Breeden with the HCAC told The Dodo that Dewey was in pretty rough shape when he was rescued but still had the will to live. He was also wearing a collar, which gave his rescuers hope that he had a home out there somewhere.
“When [he] came out of the cave, he was very emaciated,” she said. “Once they were in the cave with him and once he got out as well, he was very gentle. They originally repelled down to check it out and came back up. He started barking like, ‘Don’t leave me.'”
The animal control announced that it would hold him for the mandatory 5-day stray hold, but that in the meantime they could use funds to help with his care. They also encouraged people to share the post and got local news to do a story on him, in hopes of reaching his owners — if he had any.
Thankfully, the dog’s family was found within three days of him being picked up. Rescuers learned that his name was Hawkeye and that his family had been searching for him for weeks.
“The family saw his story on the news and contacted us,” Breeden explained. “The family had let him out to potty and he took off about two weeks prior to him being found. When he saw his dad, he was so excited, jumping and kissing him.”
The reunion was sweet, and the event was attended by animal control staff as well as some of the cavers who wanted to see the pup off and meet the owners. It was clear Hawkeye was happy to see his family, and his family looked pretty happy to see him.
It’s not every day that a lost animal gets such a heartwarming reunion, but thanks to some good Samaritans and the news story, Hawkeye is back home where he should be.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.