On May 26, Jeremy McDonald and the Minerva brothers (John and Billy) were tooling around the upper Chena River in Fairbanks, Alaska, on McDonald’s jet boat, during a period of high water. On board were the men, between the ages of 25 and 34, as well as Cutie, a 30-pound Labrador/terrier mix belonging to John’s girlfriend, according to a story by the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner.
They headed upriver, and later helped free a raft stuck on a log jam. The rescue went horribly awry, and their 17-foot boat flipped. Everybody was thrown overboard. McDonald suffered a nasty cut on his finger. The others were battered by logs. The boat was swept downstream. And Cutie? There was no sign of her.
Once they got back to shore and assessed the situation, McDonald took off to find the dog.
“I ran a quarter mile through the woods trying to catch the boat and look for the dog,” McDonald told the News-Miner. “I went as far as I could.”
He found nothing, but they didn’t give up.
“My first priority was to get back up there and find the dog,” McDonald said. “I put my dog down last winter, and I could imagine how bad everybody was feeling.”
The three men borrowed a boat and got back on the river, finally finding their boat three miles downstream from where it flipped. It was hung up on a gravel bar, battered. They couldn’t get to it, and there was no sign of Cutie. They thought she had died. The had no idea — couldn’t imagine, really — that the dog was still in the upside-down boat.
Still, they embarked on a lost dog search, calling the Alaska State Troopers and stopping campers to tell them to watch out for the dog.
Four days later, they went back to salvage the boat.
“It was crazy,” McDonald told the News-Miner. “I get to the side of the boat, look in there and she barks and growls at me.”
Cutie had survived. Somehow, she had found an air pocket in the bow, and hunkered down for the duration — four days. To retrieve her, McDonald and his team had to flip the boat.
“As soon as we did, she comes walking out shaking and scared,” McDonald said. “I was pretty sure we were going to go there and find a dead dog. It was pretty much a miracle.”
Cutie was fine after her ordeal — sore and hungry, no doubt, but okay, especially after she chowed down on chicken from the truck.
When Grace Sommer, Cutie’s owner, got the news by phone, she broke down crying. The dog she had given up for dead was alive and well.
Via the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner