Jeff Bohnert told the Associated Press that he'd nearly given up on ever finding his poodle-hound mix Abby, who went missing in early June, before receiving a text from a neighbor about a dog being found by people exploring a nearby cave.
“I said, ‘that’s my dog,’” Bohnert said on Monday (August 15), admitting he initially had doubt before seeing the picture taken by one of the rescuers.
Abby is just shy of 14, yet managed to survive nearly 60 days by herself, apparently in a dark, 58-degree Fahrenheit cave.
Bohnert said Abby and his other dog, Summer, do everything together, which included running away from his home on June 9, an incident that had previously taken place, but with the dogs eventually returning home.
Bohnert, however, woke up the following morning to see that only Summer returned to his home.
“They never separate,” Bohnert told the AP. “I figured something bad had happened. I mean, she’s old. She could just get overcome by the heat.”
Bohnert shared a post on Facebook to see if neighbors had seen Abby and contacted local police, but hadn't received any confirmation about the dog's whereabouts for months.
On August 6, Gerry Keene, five other adults and five children were exploring Berome Moore Cave when one of the children ran ahead of the group and yelled to his father, "There's a dog in here."
“She was just lying there curled up in a ball,” Keene told the AP. “She lifted her head and looked at us but she didn’t respond to verbal commands. She looked like she was pretty close to being done.”
Rick Haley, another caver who was trained in rescues, retrieved a duffel bag from his truck, put a blanket inside, then wrapped Abby in the blanket in order to keep her from making the 500-foot walk back to the entrance.
“It was critical that we not give her any rough handling,” Haley told the AP.
Keene said he went to a few homes near the cave to see if he could find the dog's owner. A neighbor reached out to Bohnert, who lives within visible distance of the cave, when they'd heard about the cavers finding a dog.
Bohnert said he assumes Abby ended up in the cave after falling into a sinkhole or hidden entrance, as her paw prints were everywhere, showing that she made an attempt to escape.
He also said he believes Abby, who normally weighs 50 lbs and lost nearly half her body weight, managed to essentially live off her own body fat during her time in the cave.
“I think she was just in a preservation mode,” Bohnert said.
Bohrnert said Abby has been wagging her tail recently and appears to be "acting like herself again" after the recent traumatic experience.
“It’s amazing how she’s springing back already,” he told the AP.