Anna has always been a skittish dog, slow to warm towards a stranger but always gentle and kind to any visitors when they would come by. She’s lived happily on Lookout Mountain for nigh on 10 years, content to be confined by an electric fence that always gave her more than enough room to romp and play. She is most at home on her bed in the kitchen, where she can watch over the events of the day, and be a faithful and constant companion to the gentleness of the house.
One day this summer some workmen were around back, working on a loose gutter, when Anna joined her owners in the sun. Anna loves to watch them in the garden, with flowers galore, but on this day something spooked her, causing her to jump the electric fence and run terrorized by the demons that have hounded her since she was rescued as a stray pup.
Somehow Anna found an opening in a storm drain and wedged her body in the narrow pipe to hide.
Anna is about the size of a small lab and had never run away before. And even if she’d heard her masters as they soon began to franticly call their beloved pet, she couldn’t back out of the constricting pipe because there was no room for her to raise her haunches and engage her reverse gear. All she could do was creep forward in the ever-tightening tight pipe and begin a journey – get this – that lasted 17 days in utter agony.
Anna’s owners had looked feverishly for her, of course, with half the mountain residents alerted, all of the police searching and her name being called by neighbors continuously. June was a hot month, and dry too, so there was virtually no water in the drainage pipe and darn-sure no food. Anna’s prison was brutal. Now there happens to be a wonderful dentist who lives some blocks away – Ernie Minges – and he is such a profound animal lover he often walks his rescued greyhounds twice a day. One afternoon, as he walked down the brow, he thought he heard a dog whimpering and he and his graceful dogs looked everywhere to no avail. They strained their ears -- there was no more sound -- but Ernie kept going back. He was certain he had heard a dog in distress.
There! The next afternoon he heard whimpering again, grabbed his cell phone and called the fire hall. A policeman quickly arrived and for over an hour the two listened, now hearing absolutely nothing. They looked behind bushes, the backs of trees, and everywhere they could but heard nothing more. Then came Sunday. Ernie kept going back and he heard the dog once more. But this time he realized the sound was coming from beneath him and was floating somehow through a manhole cover. Ernie sounded the alarm and this time a policeman heard a dog, too. The rescue was on!
The fire truck came screaming and, with the firefighters wrestling off the stubborn cover, at first they didn’t see anything. Grabbing strong lights from the truck, they looked again. “There’s the dog!” yelled one and immediately a plan was hatched to hoist the dog from 15 feet beneath the street. Using long poles and a rope, the rescuers were able to lasso the limp animal and race it to the Mountain Hospital for Animals.
Chris Keller, who watches over all the animals at the Aquarium as well as on the mountain, immediately recognized Anna and, as he began to work on the comatose dog, Anna had a seizure and her heart stopped. But now she wasn’t in the tight pipe, now she was getting IV fluids and now Dr. Keller’s magic could finally begin. Chris gave the dog a 10 percent chance but Anna gave her veterinarian a 90 percent chance. Nobody quite knows how long that first night really lasted and the next morning the dog was still in a coma. Chris had braced the tearful owner with the worse. If the dog survived, Anna probably wouldn’t be able to see or hear. Brain damage would be a problem and infection had set in. Anna’s owner was waiting by the door when the office opened and she hurried to quietly and gently sit with Anna, stroking her and telling the dog everything would be okay, that soon they could go home. That first day the owner came back five more times with the same heart-wrenching promise.
The second day, as the owner lovingly held the dog and delivered her soothing hymn, it was about midday when she thought she saw the dog’s tail wag. The dog’s elbows and knees, ground to deep in the bone by the concrete pipe, were heavily bandaged, but by late afternoon, Anna was somehow able to wag her tail once more.
On the third day, right after the clinic opened, the owner raced to where Anna was cradled and the dog was sitting up, like a sphinx. Anna’s eyes followed the owner as she walked to her dog and, glory of all glories, Anna really did wag her tail and tuck her ears back as joy and tears swept throughout Dr. Keller’s clinic when he and his gleeful staff came on the run.
Soon Anna was going to the River Animal Hospital for specialized wound treatments and suddenly the dog wanted to walk rather than be carried. That’s when Chris Keller shook his head in wonder before he told the owner to take Anna home, that the Mountain Miracle was official. Since then Anna has healed beautifully. The pipe opening was sealed so it will never entice another animal and everybody honks and waves whenever Anna is seen in the yard on her leash because it seems like …. Well, like her shadow improves the sunshine. That’s the way it is with miracles.