Dog is found alive after two months stuck in rabbit hole

A DOG missing for more than two months was found buried in a hole just yards from home.

Sophie, a Jack Russell terrier, almost died after digging for rabbits got her stuck underground.

A massive search was launched, which spread to more than 100 miles.

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But now Sophie's owner, Heather Harrison, believes she passed the family pet every day for weeks before she was eventually found.

Mrs Harrison, 51, said: "After ten weeks of being missing, we never thought we'd see Sophie again. It was such a shock to find out what happened to her.

"The skeletal little dog that was rescued from the hole couldn't have lasted much longer without food and water – I think of her as a little miracle. We're over the moon to have her home."

Sophie, seven, was a pampered family pet, a little overweight and devoted to her farmer owners Heather and Peter Harrison.

She followed Mrs Harrison everywhere. But at the beginning of February, Sophie and her brother Sam went missing from the car park outside their home.

The grandmother, from St Cyrus, Angus, said: "I suddenly realised Sophie had disappeared when I went out to feed the pony we keep.

"She would always be at my heels, trying to steal the carrots from my bag. But she wasn't there."

The Harrisons launched a huge dog-hunt for Sophie and Sam. They feared they had been stolen, but could not work out why anyone would have taken them. With the help of doglost.co.uk and Easy Walkers, the search spread as far south as Yorkshire and right up to Orkney.

But after ten weeks, the couple lost hope and had to accept the dogs were gone.

Then, on a spring day, Heather heard a yapping noise from outside her home.

"The yapping was going on for hours," she said. "I left the house and went to the embankment beside us to investigate. I was out looking for four hours but just couldn't find where the noise was coming from.

"The next day, we tried again, with the help of my sister's Jack Russell, Winston. He led us to a tree stump and this shallow hole between the tree roots.

"I was amazed to look down and see a shiny nose and some teeth. I just thought it was a fox, I never for one minute expected it to be my dog.

"I got the shock of my life when Sophie shot out and ran past me for water. She looked terrible, just skin and bones and close to death."

Sophie spent two days on a drip at her local vet's and a further two being nursed back to health.

Mrs Harrison, who is still looking for dog Sam, said: "Sophie definitely got a scare, like we did. It's amazing she was so close to home all that time.

"She's made a full recovery and she's the same overexcited little dog she was before. We're thrilled."

How Sophie could survive for so long

DOGS like Jack Russell terriers are prone to this, pushing into small holes, because they have been bred for generations to perform such tasks.

In order for her to have lasted so long underground, she must have had access to water from somewhere, seepage through the soil or elsewhere, otherwise dehydration would have been quickly fatal. An otherwise healthy dog can, however, survive a long time without any food whatsoever.

Bringing the dog back to normal health would mean gradually introducing an easily digestible diet, feeding little and often, and building up from there. Giving her a big meal immediately would likely make her quite ill.

Although there is a risk of internal organ damage following such an ordeal, it is very possible that she can make a full recovery.

• Rory Bell is head of internal medicine at the Small Animal Hospital, Glasgow University.