Mar. 4—"They're family after all," Johnson County resident Sharon Cobb said of dogs in general and her 13-year-old springer spaniel Max in particular.
Cobb on Tuesday afternoon also heaped praise on the members of the Rio Vista Volunteer Fire Department and the Rio Vista Police Department.
"I can't say enough about them or begin to say how thankful I am for them," Cobb said. "They are absolutely amazing."
Cobb's nearby neighbor, Gay Buschemi, agreed.
"Those guys do everything and we're so grateful they were there," Buschemi said.
Tuesday got off to a less than ideal start for Max.
"I went out to feed the horses and Max always follows me out when I do that," Cobb said.
Her old system having given out, Cobb recently had a new septic system installed. The system was in by Tuesday morning sitting in a hole about 6 feet deep with about a foot of space between the tank and the sides of the hole.
"Everything was good to go," Buschemi said. "She was just waiting for the inspector to come out and sign off on it so it could be filled in."
Cobb said she noticed Max wasn't by her side and initially figured he was out sniffing about as dogs will do.
"Then I heard yelping and crying and ran in that direction," Cobb said. "Max had slipped or somehow fallen in the hole. He was lying on his back upside down with his legs in the air down there and couldn't move and was whimpering and crying."
Buschemi said she heard the sounds of a dog or something screaming and ran toward Cobb's property too.
"Max couldn't get out," Buschemi said. "We weren't sure how to get him out. We were panicking and called 911. [Rio Vista Police Officer Joe Jones] got there first.
"I got a rope and was about to try to climb down there myself but [Jones] said we don't need you and the dog stuck down there so wait for the fire department. They got there right after."
Rio Vista Firefighter Matt Bourquin said they found Max in the hole "down over on his back" upon arrival.
With help from Jones, Bourquin and others lowered Firefighter Jesse Chollett, a recent addition to the department, headfirst into the pit.
"They lowered the young man holding on to his feet," Cobb said. "He managed to maneuver around and get down there."
Which, Chollett joked, was not something he imagined he would be doing when he woke up Tuesday morning.
"It was interesting, a different experience," Chollett said. "But I guess it was kind of fun and exciting too."
Chollett managed to grab hold of Max and, with help from those above, extricate himself and the dog back to terra firma.
"Once we got them both back up the dog was scared and making some noise but once he was back on solid ground he started to calm down pretty quick," Bourquin said.
For Chollett the morning proved a bit of an adventure he won't soon forget.
"Really just glad we were able to get the dog out safely and that he seems to be okay," Chollett said. "But that was my first, well, we helped out a horse that got stuck in a fence, but really this was my first major animal rescue."
Cobb said she was overjoyed to see her dog back safe and unharmed and beyond grateful to those who made that happen.
"I just don't have the words to praise them enough," Cobb said. "You could tell they were dog lovers and would've done anything to help Max out."
Shaken but otherwise no worse for the wear, Max was rushed to White Oak Veterinary Clinic in Grandview where Cobb said Dr. Chris Tarwater cleaned mud and dirt out of Max' ears but otherwise gave him a clean bill of health.
"Sound asleep," Cobb said later on Tuesday when asked what Max was up to. "He was a little sore and the vet gave him some medication so I imagine he'll probably sleep the rest of the day. I'm just glad he's here and okay."
Cobb is less pleased with the fact that the hole around her new septic system couldn't have been filled in at least partially until inspectors arrived.
"If it can happen to my dog it can happen to someone else's pet or even their child and I would hate to see anyone else have to go through that," Cobb said.