Dog survives 25 days without food and water

February 16, 1994|By William Thompson | William Thompson,Eastern Shore Bureau of The Sun

CHESTERTOWN -- The wagging of Honey's tail isn't the only happy ending to this doggie story.

Honey, a 14 1/2 -year-old golden retriever, woke up at her home yesterday for the first time since she wandered away and apparently fell into a secluded goose hunting pit. She had endured 25 days without food and water during some of the state's coldest weather in years.

"She's an older dog, and I find it amazing that she survived," said Dr. Gerard A. Boston, a veterinarian who helped care for Honey after she was discovered Feb. 7. She was lying motionless but breathing at the bottom of a goose pit less than a half-mile from the brick farmhouse where she lives outside Chestertown in Kent County.

Honey's owners, Alexander H. and Ann Wilmer Hoon, had abandoned hope of finding their pet alive. Extensive searches were made after she disappeared during a morning walk on Jan. 13.

"I figured she decided it was time for her to die and she chose not to die in the house," Mrs. Hoon said.

Mrs. Hoon said searchers checked the farm's three goose pits -- narrow, 4-foot-deep reinforced dugouts where hunters hide until geese land nearby -- but did not see the dog. The pits are partially covered with brush.

Apparently Honey fell into one and was unable to climb out. Honey's hearing has degenerated with age, said Mrs. Hoon, and the dog probably could not hear people calling out for her.

During Honey's absence, temperatures dipped to 6 degrees below zero. Winds swept the fields around the goose pit and freezing rains fell.

But 25 days after Honey disappeared, Toby Lloyd drove out over the Hoon farm to make sure the goose decoys had been removed from the pits where he and friends had hunted geese this winter.

Mr. Lloyd, 22, a senior at nearby Washington College, said he jumped into a goose pit to look for decoys. What he saw instead was a reddish brown animal collapsed on the wooden floor with its head partially hidden beneath a bench.

"It startled me, and I jumped back out," he said. "Then I realized it was a dog, and when I got down into the pit, she raised her head a little and tried to look at me." Mr. Lloyd said he raced to the house, telephoned Mr. Hoon at his office and told him that Honey had been found. Grabbing food and water, he returned to the pit.

"After she had something to drink and eat," Mr. Lloyd said, "she was standing on her own and wagging her tail."

Honey was taken to the Eastern Shore Animal Hospital where vets took blood and checked her internal organs. Honey, who had weighed a healthy 70 pounds before her ordeal, had dropped 30 pounds while she languished in the goose pit.

"We were concerned," Dr. Boston said. "She was badly dehydrated and she had pretty much depleted all the fat she had stored up in her body."

But with plenty of water and a mixture of dry and moist dog food, Honey regained her strength. The ecstatic Hoons picked her up Monday and brought her home.

"This tells me we shouldn't give up on our animals," said Mrs. Hoon. Dr. Boston said the prognosis for Honey's continuing recovery appears good. He said the dog's thick winter coat and body fat helped her survive the lengthy period without nourishment.

But, he added, there may be another reason Honey is alive: "Obviously, she has quite a will."

Told of Honey's ordeal, Cleveland Amory, president of the anti-hunting Fund for Animals Inc. and a popular writer of books about animals, said he had never heard of a dog going 25 days without food and water.

"Honey's triumphant return from her incredible experience should gladden the hearts of even the deadliest hunters," he said from his office in New York.

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