Dog daze in Avon |

Dog daze in Avon

Fire fighters from the Eagle River Fire Protection District rescued a 7 month old chocolate lab that had crawled 30 feet up a drainage pipe and gotten stuck. The dog had been rescued from a rescue program about a week ago.

AVON, Colorado – Lassie didn’t rescue Timmy Tuesday, Timmy and a bunch of his buddies rescued Lassie – or, in this case, Gary.

Jordan Kohler and firefighters from the Eagle River Fire Protection District rescued Gary from a small drainage pipe where he’d gotten stuck, perhaps for two days.

Gary is a chocolate Lab pup Kohler had gotten from a rescue program about a week ago.

“You may be the only dog rescued twice,” Kohler told Gary when his dog was finally free.

A passing bicyclist heard whimpering and barking early Tuesday morning coming from inside a drainage pipe beside Highway 6 and called 911.

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But before we can tell you that story, we have to tell you this story.

Gary is a 35-pound chocolate Lab about seven months old. Kohler got him from a rescue program about a week ago, so they’re still checking each other out.

Kohler took a 12-mile hike Sunday and left Gary securely locked up in his Sun Ridge apartment. At least he thought Gary was secure.

Turns out that Gary loves the outdoors as much as Kohler. Love will find a way, and Gary found a way out.

Gary managed to escape from the apartment and was gone by the time Kohler returned.

Kohler is a responsible pet owner. Gary escaped with his leash still hooked onto his collar and poop pickup bags attached to the leash.

Kohler strapped on his headlamp and spent all night Sunday looking for his dog. He spotted him once, but not again.

Kohler and some friends put up posters all over the neighborhood, and even asked a local radio station to do a lost-dog announcement. Ironically, that announcement was being broadcast as the firefighters were digging a 3-foot hole and using the jaws of life to cut a hole in the culvert.

At 7:43 a.m. Tuesday, a passing bicyclist heard Gary barking and whimpering, but couldn’t quite pin down where it was coming from. When it became apparent, the bicyclist called Vail dispatch, explaining that a dog was stuck in a drainage pipe along Highway 6.

Kohler had just finished his shift with Beaver Creek Public Safety around 7 a.m. Tuesday when the call came in.

Sean Mills works with Kohler on Beaver Creek Public Safety, and had heard Kohler’s new rescue dog was missing. Mills also heard the dispatcher announce it on the scanner, and knew right where it was.

He scooted to the spot and aimed a flashlight into the drainage pipe for a good look.

Looking back were two of the saddest eyes on God’s green earth.

“When I saw the dog and saw the eyes, I knew what had happened,” Mills said.

Gary had crawled into the pipe as far as he could before he got stuck where the pipe was collapsed a little, just over 30 feet in. He couldn’t back out and he couldn’t turn around. He was stuck.

Firefighters weren’t exactly sure where Gary was, so they said took their best guess.

Their best guess was never better.

They dug through 3 feet of dirt before reaching the pipe, then cut a two-foot hole in it that turned out to be just inches from Gary’s nose.

A little work with the metal cutters, some jaws of life to bend the metal back and an hour and a half later they had their dog.

Just a few days ago Kohler proudly told one of his buddies, “I got a rescue dog!”

“You don’t know what you’ve gotten yourself into,” his buddy replied.

He does now.

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or

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