A dog named Koda survived 13 days trapped in a culvert, with only ditch water to keep her alive. Geri Skjersven was working in her garden on Sunday at her home near Lac La Biche, Alberta, Canada, when she heard whimpering. "Something told me you better go look, because this doesn't sound right," Skjersven said. "It's not the right whine or cry of a normal dog. It was a hurting cry." She thought the sound was coming from behind the neighbour's house across the road, so she got a flashlight and returned to the culvert.
"I knelt down under there and I looked, and I saw two little eyes looking at me. And she was stuck there ... she was squished in there."
Skjersven and her husband, Ivan, own a company that does water and sewer work. They got their backhoe, called the gas company to mark the gas line and used the bucket to skim away the dirt.
They recognised Koda, an eight-year-old part German shepherd, so Skjersven went to fetch the owner. They then all worked with hand shovels to remove part of the culvert.
"She was in rough shape, shedding, skinny as ever, not a bark or whine," Skjersven said of the dog.
"She looked pretty pathetic, very thin."
They wrapped the muddy dog in blankets and offered the animal food.
The rescue has prompted the local humane society to warn pet owners about this previously overlooked hazard.
"As part of searching for a missing pet - look in the area culverts," said M.J. Siebold, chair of the Lac La Biche Regional Humane Society.
In the country, dogs and cats chase mice, porcupines or rabbits and could easily be led into a culvert, she said.
The dog had gone missing from her owners' property on June 20, Siebold said, and likely would have died had there not been water in the culvert.
"It was dirty water, but the fact that she was able to keep herself somewhat hydrated I think is what saved her," she said. "To be trapped for 13 days with no water, I don't think an old girl like her would have made it."
Siebold said the rescue was "kind of like fate," given that the people who found Koda had the equipment and the know-how to rescue her.
Koda is now under the care of a veterinarian in Lac La Biche, about 200 kilometres northeast of Edmonton.
"I'm glad it turned out well," Skjerseven said. "We were kind of worried it wasn't going to, but she's doing fine. It's amazing."