Em’s encounter with a pipe

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This morning I took the dogs out for a walk, trying to beat the rainstorm that was coming in from the southwest, as they were all a bit antsy to get out and play and run. I had told my husband that I would just walk the perimeter of the fence, as we have about 30 fenced acres. That’s usually a good walk, as they go down into the gully that borders the fence and chase bunnies and squirrels. But as I started on my walk and got down to the fence bordering our northern neighbor, the dogs were interested to see if any prairie dogs were left from the shooting that had gone on a day or two ago. (Another neighbor goes out and shoots the prairie dogs sometimes, as this year they are really numerous and they can damage a pasture.) So instead of just walking around our property like I had told my husband, I crossed over onto the other ranch and headed north towards the gully.

That turned out to be a big mistake. A few years ago we had an irrigation project come through, and there are some random pipe left that the bunnies love to hide in. On top of the bank dropping about 30-40 feet into the gully sat a 4″ pipe about 3-4 feet long. With a bunny hiding in it. Of course, all of the dogs were barking and excited to try to get at the bunny. Nothing unusual, as it happens frequently. But, this time, EmmaLee somehow got her head stuck in the end of the pipe, panicked and went tumbling down the embankment towards the ditch at the bottom. This bank sits at about a 30 degree angle, so pretty steep, and the ground is really rocky, big and little rocks. Needless to say, I totally freaked out. And poor Em was tumbling down the bank, trying to get her head out of the pipe. I couldn’t get to her because as soon as I would get close, she’d panic some more and continue to fall down the bank. One time the poor girl somersaulted over a small tree backward. I was terrified that she’d break her neck or who knows what else, as the pipe is pretty long and probably pretty heavy for her to have on her head. I was very concerned that she would land somehow in the ditch and drown. Not a good thought, as I have already seen one of my husband’s dogs drown, so I was really not reacting very well. And I’m sure between falling into the unknown with a pipe on her head and me stressing out, she was super stressed! (Note to self…try not to panic when you see dogs in trouble…tough one…)

I finally got her stopped about 10 feet up from the ditch. I called my husband and told him quickly that Em had her head stuck in a pipe and where I was. Then I waited…and waited. The other dogs stayed close, Sammie right beside me and her mom, Maddie and Colt off to the side, and Tucker and Sage on the other side of me. I don’t know what happened to Joy or Chance, but right then, I didn’t even realize they were missing, as I was worried about my Em. And it had started to rain.

Finally I heard my husband’s 4-wheeler and I sent the dogs up to go get him, as he wouldn’t be able to see me at the bottom of the gully unless he looked over it. Luckily, the Ratties took off when I told them to “go get daddy” and he came sliding down the hill. I had her calmed down for the most part by then and could hear that her breathing had returned more to normal. Before, it was almost like a small freight train echoing in the pipe. Luckily, he was able to pull the pipe off of her head without too much difficulty, although for a second I was worried that he’d pull her head off too!

After we got her back up the hill and onto his 4-wheeler he told me that what had taken him so long was that he had gone to the other side of our pasture, as he had thought that I was just walking the perimeter. And he was lucky to have heard his phone, as it had been sitting on my dresser when he happened to go in the bedroom and heard it vibrate. Then he forgot to take the phone with him when he went out to go help me and at first couldn’t figure out where I was, as he thought I was talking about a different pipe. I am so glad he came to help, as it would have been really difficult for me to try to climb up the bank carrying Em with a pipe on her head.

Lesson in all of this…stay far away from pipe if at all possible (hard to do out here in the west as that is how they get water to their pastures), make sure you let whoever is home know where you will be, and if you change plans, let them know, even if it is just a text message. And always make sure that whoever is home has their phone with them and ON! Thankfully, the only obvious damage is to one of her ears, but I’m sure she’s bruised and sore.

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