Roxy the Blue Heeler is one lucky dog.
After running off for 12 days in the cold, wet woods of the protected Cedar River watershed, she is safely back home with her family, thanks to two alert and considerate City Light workers who rescued her from a penstock saddle near Cedar Falls.
“It’s really unbelievable,” said Kerry Geffen, Roxy’s owner. “We are so happy to be together again.”
Roxy’s not-so-excellent adventure began on April 2, when her pet sitter took her for a walk around Rattlesnake Lake. The sitter let Roxy off leash, and before long the cattle dog took off to explore the wilderness.
Roxy’s family was away on spring break. When they came back they set off a search, driving back and forth from their home in Tacoma, with no luck.
In most circumstances, that would be the sad end of this story. The upper Cedar River watershed is a protected area of 90,000 acres with bears, mountain lions and very few people – not exactly a friendly place for a lone house dog.
But on April 13, Jason Hunter, a hydro maintenance worker at the City Light Cedar Falls powerhouse, was delivering a replacement light to a gatehouse by the huge penstock pipes that move water from the Mansonry Dam to the electrical generators down river. Workers visit that gatehouse only a couple of times a month.
As he walked a metal catwalk between the pipes, he noticed some movement below.
“I assumed it was a raccoon or a bobcat. I looked closer and, what the heck, it was a dog,” Jason said. Roxy must have walked along the penstocks during her trek, and somehow ended up stuck on a narrow saddle high off the ground.
Jason called Crew Chief Don Nation, and he met Jason at the gatehouse armed with rain gear, boots, and a rope.
“I did not want to get bitten. I had gloves on, I approached her carefully.” Don said. “She looked cold and wet, so I slipped the rope around her neck, went up the ladder with her and we all headed back to the powerhouse.”
Don fed the dog some cheese sticks and grabbed a dog leash out his vehicle. He noticed Roxy’s tag, which had a phone number.
“I called the number and a lady answered the phone. I asked her if she lost a dog and she said yes, is she OK? I said yes and she started crying,” Don recalled.
Don took Roxy home with him until he could meet with Kerry’s husband, Jon, later that evening. In between, Roxy got a good meal and got comfortable with Don’s wife and daughter, before heading back to her own family.
Jason Hunter still can’t believe Roxy’s good luck. The dog looked like she’d spent at least a couple of days stuck in that saddle.
“It was a freak of fortune that we would be there,” he said. “It’s a miracle that the dog lasted that long in the woods.”
Kerry Geffen gratefully agrees. “Now we know that when something seems impossible, sometimes it is,” Kerry said.