Story Name: The Groundhog & the Culvert
From: Connie Shaffer
My Jack Russell Story:
We had always been so careful to keep our Jack, Bronco, on leash whenever outdoors. We live in the Allegheny mountains and have loads of game animals just out of the yard. Bronco's hunting instinct is so strong and he has such a great nose that one whiff of an interesting aroma and he would be gone down a hole, up the mountain behind us or lost in the brambles.
Anyway, my husband, Don, had been working with our boy, Bronco, very diligently on off lead. As usual, Bronco was going to ride with him to the hardware store. They went out the back door and walked calmly to the car. Don opened the door and gave the command to "board up" and Bronco was gone like a shot straight up the neighbors gravel driveway with his nose twitching all the way.
Don followed in hot pursuit and was lucky to catch a glimpse of white tail as it disappeared under the driveway into the drainage culvert. I know that God was watching over our little tan and white guy that hot August morning. For why else would my husband have been close enough to see where Bronco's true nose led him after chugging up a 45 degree incline for about 1/8 mile.
Don tried to call Bronco out of the tunnel, but knew Bronco had cornered something when the familiar sharp, insistent barking started. By this time, I had gone out to see what the commotion was all about.
Don sent me back to the house to get a shovel and a garden hoe to try to clear out the dirt and crumbled slate that had accumulated in the culvert. We worked in vain for quite a while to no avail on both ends of the culvert. It appeared that Bronco and his prey were near the center of the driveway and out of our reach.
Another trip was made to the house, this time to call for help. Don's brother and son quickly came to help and shortly after, the neighbor returned home and he and his son pitched in.
Our concerned neighbor sized up the situation and said, "Dig up the driveway, don't worry about it." Pickaxes, more shovels and a pry bar quickly appeared and the rescue work began in earnest. Luckily, the culvert pipe was in two sections and after over six hours, the first section was exposed. Somehow, these three men and two boys pried and lifted the steel pipe from its resting place.
We cleared out more slate and hard-packed dirt and watched in amazement as the largest groundhog I have ever seen calmly waddled out and blinked in the bright sunlight before moving rapidly into the woods.
Another foot of debris was removed before I could see Bronco's eyes glistening in the darkness. We were able to remove enough dirt by hand to pull Bronco out. He had been wedged into a six-inch opening at the top of the pipe and was lying on his side.
I cradled him in my arms and snapped on his leash and offered him water which he refused. I quickly examined him and found that his paws were raw and he was missing several toenails. He was also hoarse as he had barked almost continually. He had several bad abrasions on his side. I put him on the ground and to everyone's astonishment, he tried to go back into the culvert pipe after his prey.
I wish I could say that he is back to normal to give this story a happy ending, but after breathing the dirt-filled air for so long, Bronco's lungs and later his heart were affected.
At the age of four and a half, he has retired from Go-To-Ground and Racing at the JRT Terrier Trials and stud service. Currently, he is training his grandson and protegee, Woody on how to be a Jack Russell Terrier and the importance of indoor etiquette.
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