The gate accidentally left ajar, scents on the ground – what are a pair of beagles to do but follow their noses?
It was Tuesday, October 30, when eight-year-olds Snoopy and Mimi embarked on a big adventure, walking from their Blackheath home down into Hat Hill Canyon.
Canyoners love creek walking, swimming, rock hopping and scrambling down large mossy boulders to get there.
Exactly how the beagles got in, no-one can say, but there was no way they were going to get out on their own.
Three days went by without a word with owners Deb Wells and Tony Morgan increasingly dispirited.
But on the Thursday afternoon, Ms Wells got a phone call from a bushwalker called Andrew, who spotted the girls but, as he was on his own, he couldn’t bring them out.
That night, Andrew went on to the OzCanyons Facebook page. Enter Damo, James Reeves and Neil Aldred. The three agreed to meet the next day to attempt a rescue.
Unfortunately, Damo’s child was ill so he had to pull out, leaving the rescue to Mr Reeves, from Lawson, and Mr Aldred, from Leura.
It took a lot of searching but eventually one of the dogs poked her head out from behind a bush. They both looked pretty done in, Mr Reeves said.
“It was a fairly steep canyon and they were lost well and truly,” he said. “We could tell they were quite exhausted. They wouldn’t have got out unassisted.”
Mr Aldred packed the 13-kilogram Mimi (a cross beagle-pug) into his backpack; Mr Reeves carried Snoopy (18 kg): “She was a sweet dog. We bonded in our time together.”
It was a tough ascent out of the canyon, the men having to wade through pools, holding the dogs aloft. By the time they finally emerged at about 4pm, the men had given all their water to the dogs.
But their mate Damo was there, to give them a much-needed drink.
Ms Wells said: “He’d come to make sure they came out safely because he’d co-ordinated them and just wanted to be sure everyone was OK.”
Ms Wells was overwhelmed, asking how on earth she could thank the two canyoners for what they’d done.
They said a hug was all they needed and were more concerned she get the dogs to the vet, Ms Wells said. “They were just the nicest blokes.”
She thinks the dogs must have followed a kangaroo path in along land, as they couldn’t have gone via the creek which cascades over waterfalls. The scent of a roo will take Snoopy anywhere, she said.
After a night in hospital, they both seem to be fine, Ms Wells said. As for the gate, it will get a huge spring on it so it can’t be left open.