A Treasure Valley family on their yearly trip to Council made an unexpected discovery while exploring the Idaho wilderness: a dog, whimpering and abandoned in the bottom of a secluded cave.
Dan and Bret Friend, along with other relatives, have made it an annual tradition to hike into the woods where, years ago, their elder relatives discovered a small opening in the earth.
“I think it was my grandfather's cousin that stumbled upon it while he was just hunting or roaming the hills years and years ago, and found this little hole in the ground,” Bret friend said. “It’s back along a logging road that hasn't been maintained for years and years and is pretty grown in.”
The cave opening is about three miles from a drivable road, and Bret guesses fewer than 100 people even know the cave exists, making them even more surprised to hear a soft whimper coming from down below.
“We were a noisy bunch and this dog heard us,” Bret said. “She was down in the hole and she started whining and whimpering, because [she must have thought], 'People! I hear people!' So I thought, ‘did I really hear that?’ I looked around and got everybody to be quiet and then she started whimpering again!”
The hound then let out a bay, letting Bret know it was a dog down below, who he then knew needed rescuing.
The only way in and out of the cave is a rope ladder the family put in place years ago in the narrow opening to explore inside the cave.
“I went down first and the dog was so happy to see a person she just ran right up to me and put her nose right here,” Bret said motioning to his stomach. “Then I looked at the ladder and thought oh well there's no way I can carry her out.”
Bret and his brother Dan were able to secure Tinker inside a large duffle bag, attach it to a rope, and have her lifted out from above by other family members.
Once the dog made it safely above ground, the family could see how emaciated the animal had become after being trapped without food and water.
“She went for two weeks with only the moisture on the cave walls to drink, so it is just incredible that we showed up when we did to save her,” Bret said.
Tinker, which the family learned was the dog’s name, was wearing tags and collars tracing back to the Idaho Houndsmen Association who was training a group of dogs in the area July 16.
They were able to get in touch with Tinker’s trainer, and are now working to reunite the pooch with her rightful owner.