Richard Carnes: Emergency service flies to the rescue of stuck Vail Valley dog |

Richard Carnes: Emergency service flies to the rescue of stuck Vail Valley dog

I received the phone call around 6:30 Friday night, while attending a surprise 40th birthday party for a friend in Singletree.

“Dad, there’s a dog stuck in the ditch!”

“A what stuck in the what?”

“Here, ask Mom!”

The phone made a swishing sound as I could hear other kids shouting in the background. He must have been running with it toward Mom.

“Honey, there’s a dog stuck in the culvert underneath our driveway. I think it’s Sophie from next door.”

“Well, tell her to come out.”

I’m a logistical genius with these types of things.

“That’s the problem. She won’t come out. Evidently she’s been stuck in there for at least two hours, according to the neighbors, and she’s just lying there, barking constantly.”

“Did you try to coax her out with any treats?”

“Yes, somebody even tried pork chops, but she’s not moving an inch. What do we do?”

“Call Animal Control.”

“I did. All they said was to keep trying to bribe her out.”

“Crap (pretty sure I used a more colorful word)! Call 911, and I’ll be home in a minute.”

Twenty minutes later I was listening to the symphonic sounds of a 14-year-old Basset hound stuck in repeat mode from the middle of a 60-foot long, 18-inch wide pipe.

The cavalry, aka Eagle County Emergency Services, arrived soon after. A fire truck, an ambulance, three men and two women all looked in the pipe and quickly reached the same startling conclusion: Yep, there was a dog stuck in the pipe.

Questions were repeated with duplicate answers received.

Yes, we had tried to reach the owners. No, they were not home and were not answering their cell phones. Yes, we tried treats. No, even pork chops wouldn’t work. Yes, she’s a sweet old dog.

Dumb, but sweet.

By this point, I imagined Sophie’s thoughts to be something along the lines of, “Yes, hello, excuse me, dear humans who keep shouting my name and banging the side of the metal pipe as if the noise of my own bark isn’t deafening enough already, but if I could depart myself from this predicament on my very own, do you not believe I would have bloody well done so already?” (Sophie being of English breeding, I assumed she thinks in a British accent.)

Before long the reinforcements arrived (another fire truck, some kind of white box on wheels I have trouble describing, and what I think was a Chevy Suburban), along with a few dozen Homestead neighbors curious enough to see just what the hell was happening up at the Carnes house this time.

Let’s just say we have, um… a reputation.

I believe I counted 14 Eagle County employees (none of whom would accept a beer for their troubles) and, to be perfectly honest, they treated the entire ordeal as if it were a 3-year-old little girl stuck in the pipe instead of an old dog.

I’m telling you, these folks were certainly impressive.

Eventually, two guys dressed up for a joint spelunking adventure, one starting at the east end and the other from the west. At the very moment they both disappeared into the round abyss running underneath the Carnes property, someone asked if Sophie would bite, immediately reminding me of Inspector Clouseau.

“Does your dog bite?”


“Ouch! I thought you said your dog does not bite!”

“That is not my dog.”

Anyway, the human plunger from the east connected a rope with the west side tax-funded mole, and together with half a dozen others, they slowly pulled both man and beast to loud applause and glorious freedom.

Although it was 9:30 at night, Sophie bounced around like a puppy looking for a playmate, while the saviors of the day methodically packed up their stuff and returned the culvert to its pre-canine-violated condition.

Yep, just another boring Friday night on Creamery Trail. But I know these are the men and women I want around in case of a real emergency.

Richard Carnes of Edwards writes a column for the Daily. He can be reached at

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