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Saturday, December 3, 2011

Miracle mutt! Terrier survives 20 days down rabbit hole... then wriggles free after losing weight


Owner Nicky Harwood is reunited with seven-year-old Bilbo who get wedged chasing a rabbit down a 10-inch wide hole in Dobwalls, Cornwall.

With a name like Bilbo, you would have expected him to be good at finding his way out of holes.

But when the border cross lakeland terrier chased a rabbit into one, his owners feared they had seen the last of him.

For unlike his hobbit namesake, the seven-year-old pet was unable to find his way out of the narrow underground maze.

The tiny rabbit hole where Bilbo got stuck for 20 days until he lost enough weight to wriggle free

After nearly three weeks his owners had all but given up on him, when suddenly he popped out after losing enough weight to wriggle free.

Bilbo had squeezed down the 10in tunnel during a walk on Bodmin Moor, near his home in Dobwalls, Cornwall on November 7.

Firemen told owner Nicky Harwood, 39, that the tunnel might collapse if they dug into it and she would have to wait for the dog to find his own way out.

Mrs Harwood, her husband Andy, 42, and her two children Perry, 18, and Georgina, 15, tried to tempt him out with bowls of food.

But after 20 days he finally scampered out weighing about 15lb – 3½lb less than when he went in.

Artist Mrs Harwood said: ‘I had given up hope that Bilbo was still alive by the time we got the call to say he had been found.

‘I couldn’t believe it, I thought “how has he survived with no water or food for all this time?”

‘When we took him to the vet’s the following day they said he must have survived by eating soil and getting water from that.

‘We will never know what happened to him but I think he may have got stuck in one of the small tunnels and after he lost the weight managed to free himself.’

The family had sat outside the hole for a few hours every day and tried to lure Bilbo out with various familiar scents – including his bed, the family’s bedsheets, and his pet food.

But after 20 days he was thin enough to wriggle free and dashed straight back to the car park where his family had parked nearly three weeks before.

A passer-by recognised him from missing posters that had been plastered around the village and reunited him with the grateful family. Mrs Harwood added: ‘He looked so skinny and sorry for himself when I first saw him. He was caked in bog mud and had trouble breathing. Luckily he is gaining weight and is nearly back to his full health now.

‘We are just so grateful to have him home. It really is a miracle he survived.’



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